Germany on Monday dismissed a news report that it was considering withdrawing its Patriot interceptors from Turkey by the end of the year.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Germany and the Netherlands were interested in removing their respective Patriot batteries from the Turkish border with Syria because their militaries were having a difficult time maintaining the troop levels needed to operate the antimissile systems.
"If they would need us and if there would be a demand, we can extend the mission for another two years," German defense ministry spokesman Ingo Gerhartz was quoted by the Anadolu Agency as saying.
Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States have each been fielding two Patriot antimissile systems in Turkey since early 2013. The NATO-sanctioned deployments are a response to concerns about the possibility that the Syrian army could deliberately or accidentally send ballistic missiles toward Turkish territory during the course of the Syrian civil war.
Gerhartz told reporters that the removal this week of all of Syria's declared chemical warfare materials did not obviate the need for the Patriot systems. A recent routine NATO assessment of the deployments "concluded that the level of threat had been decreased with the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons but, on the other hand, the rest of the risks remain unchanged," the spokesman said.