Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday said the Patriot missiles that his nation, Germany, and the United States intend to deploy to defend Turkey should be active by the end of next month, Reuters reported.
"We expect them to be operational by the end of January," Rutte told reporters following talks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels. "The location will be decided with our allies, and several matters need to be sorted out before the Patriots can be deployed."
The Patriot systems are to be fielded at the request of Turkey, which is concerned about protecting its territory from the bleed over of the civil war in neighboring Syria. Syrian artillery shells and mortars have already landed on multiple occasions in the NATO member, causing several deaths, and there are international worries that an increasingly desperate Damascus will use chemical weapons in a bid to stave off defeat. Reports this week indicate the Assad government has also begun using Scud ballistic missiles against opposition forces, a claim denied by Damascus.
The Netherlands and Germany are expected to each send two Patriot batteries while the number from the United States is not yet known.
German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Link said the present intention is to install Patriot air-defense systems at Kahramanmaras, a site some 60 miles away from the Turkish-Syrian border.
The missiles are to be transported by sea as they are too bulky and technically complicated to be sent by air, officials said.