Syrian Rebels Ask U.S. to Shoot Down Assad's Warplanes


Rebels want Patriot missile batteries inside the country of Syria, not just on the Turkish border.

worldnews.nbc
A Syrian opposition leader said Tuesday that he had asked the United States to defend rebel-held areas with Patriot missiles.

NATO already has Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries in NATO-member Turkey to help defend the country from potential airstrikes by President Bashar Assad's regime.

Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib -- who appeared Tuesday as the representative of Syria at an Arab League summit meeting following the Assad regime's suspension -- said that he had asked Secretary of State John Kerry "to extend the umbrella of the Patriot missiles to cover the Syrian north and he promised to study the subject," Reuters reported.

The insurgents have few weapons to counter Assad's helicopter gunships and warplanes. Al-Khatib added that the United States should play a bigger role in helping end the two-year-old conflict in Syria, blaming Assad's government for what he called its refusal to solve the crisis.

Al-Khatib, who is considered a moderate preacher, appeared at the summit despite his resignation as the head of the Syrian National Coalition on Sunday, when he slammed the lack of action by the international community. An estimated 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the two-year conflict.