Turkey: Assad Regime Is Committing War Crimes in Syria

First Patriot missile batteries, sent by NATO members to Turkey, will be ready for use this weekend, senior officer says.

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Turkey's foreign minister is calling on the international community to declare the Syrian regime's bombardment of its own citizens a war crime and to insist on humanitarian access to areas of central Syria.

Syria has seen a new rise in violence in recent weeks, including a government rocket attack Wednesday, in a conflict that the UN says has killed more than 60,000 people.

Turkey's Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday that "Aleppo and many other cities are being bombarded by airplanes indiscriminately." His country has taken in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said, "this is a criminal act" even at a time of war.

On Wednesday, a senior NATO officer said that the first Patriot missile batteries were shipped to Turkey and are expected to be in place and ready for use this weekend.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands are sending Patriot anti-missile systems after Ankara asked NATO for help to beef up its air defenses.

The Dutch army will be the first to have some of its Patriots in place and that is expected to happen this weekend, said British Brigadier-General Gary Deakin, a senior NATO officer.

All of the Patriot batteries are expected to be in place and operational by the end of January, he told a news briefing at NATO headquarters.

"We expect to have an initial operating capability this weekend, that is what we are aiming at ... The first units will arrive on station, they will plug in to the NATO command and control network and they will be then ready to defend the population," Deakin said.

"The full capability we are aiming to deliver at the end of the month," he added.

A Dutch military convoy heads to Adana after trucks disembarked at Turkey's Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, January 23, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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