(Reuters) – Turkey will imminently lodge an official request with NATO asking the military alliance to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria to guard against violence spilling over, a senior Turkish foreign ministry official said on Wednesday.
If approved, the deployment would represent a further deterioration in relations between Turkey and Syria – once close allies – and see more military hardware poured into a region where tensions are already high.
Britain also appeared to harden its stance on Syria on Wednesday when Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had ordered UK diplomats to talk directly to Syrian rebels. Britain’s previous stance had been to engage only with political representatives of the opposition.
Syria’s war, in which the opposition estimates 38,000 people have been killed, raises the specter of wider Middle East turbulence and poses one of the greatest foreign policy challenges for U.S. President Barack Obama as he starts his second term.