US starts to pull Patriot missiles from Turkey at critical time
HATAY - Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoThe U.S. has started to pull its Patriot missiles stationed in Turkey, despite a recent appeal from Ankara to its NATO allies to keep the air and missile defense units at a delicate time on the border with Syria.
Patriot missiles were initially deployed at the Gaziantep 5th Armored Brigade Command in southeastern Turkey after the country appealed to its NATO allies to guard against rockets from Syria.
On Aug. 15, German Federal Ministry of Defense announced that it would end its contribution to the anti-missile mission in Turkey.
The announcement was followed by a statement from the U.S. on Aug. 16 saying it had informed the Turkish government that the mission, due to end in October, would not be renewed.
The U.S.’s withdrawal of the anti-missile systems started as the Patriots were brought to the Port of İskenderun awaiting ships that would return them to U.S. soil.
The pull out was initiated despite a recent appeal by Turkey to its NATO allies on Oct. 8, days after Russian jets violated Turkey’s airspace near Syria.
The move raised questions about NATO’s strategy in Turkey, as it contradicted with the statements of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that the alliance was prepared to send ground forces to defend its member state.