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INTERNATIONAL > NATO begins deploying Patriot missiles in Turkey: US

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse

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NATO began deploying Patriot missiles in Turkey Friday to defend against threats from neighbouring Syria, said the US military's European Command (EUCOM).

US military personnel and equipment arrived at Incirlik Air Base in southeastern Turkey to support NATO's Patriot battery deployment on Ankara's request, EUCOM, based in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart, said in a statement.

It said that about 400 US troops would travel to Turkey over the next several days by US military airlift to operate two Patriot batteries supporting NATO's mission there. Additional equipment will arrive by sea later in January.

"The deployment of six Patriot batteries, including two each from Germany and the Netherlands, is in response to Turkey's request to NATO," EUCOM said.

"The forces will augment Turkey's air defence capabilities and contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the Alliance's border." EUCOM deputy commander Charles Martoglio said the Patriot batteries would fall under NATO command "when set-up is complete and the systems are operational in the next several weeks".

"The deployment will be defensive only and will not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation," EUCOM added.

January/04/2013

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