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NATO Activates Two More Patriot Air-Defense Batteries in Turkey

By Chris Schneidmiller

Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- NATO on Wednesday said two German Patriot air-defense batteries are now operational in Turkey.

The systems join two batteries from the Netherlands that began operations in recent days.

“NATO now has command and control of two Dutch and two German Patriot batteries located in Adana and Kahramanmaras in the south of Turkey,” the military alliance said in a statement. “These four Patriot antimissile systems are now actively defending these locations from missile threats.”

NATO committed six Patriot batteries as a means of protecting Turkey from ballistic missiles and other airborne threats from neighboring Syria. The military uprising against the Assad government has affected Turkey and other regional states in the form of falling artillery shells and refugees.

There have also been concerns about the security or possible use of Syrian chemical weapons. This week, Israeli military jets struck either an arms research site near Damascus or a weapons convoy heading from Syria to Lebanon, according to differing reports.

The final two Patriot batteries, supplied by the United States, arrived at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on Wednesday, according to a NATO official, who asked to remain anonymous in keeping with standing rules.

“We expect the U.S. Patriots to come under NATO command in the coming days” in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, the official told Global Security Newswire by e-mail.

Stars and Stripes reported on Wednesday that final deployment of the U.S. batteries was being held up by administrative issues involving the Turkish government. The report did not offer specifics of the complication.

“We expect all the detailed technical arrangements to be worked out in the coming days,” the NATO official said without elaborating.

Officials from U.S. European Command could not be reached for comment on Thursday regarding the situation.

When all six Patriot batteries come online, they would provide protection for 3.5 million people in Turkey against missile strikes, according to the alliance. NATO assessed recently that the Assad government had launched in excess of 20 Scud-type short-range ballistic missiles against Syrian opposition forces.

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