Germany’s cabinet agreed on Thursday to send Patriot missiles and up to 400 soldiers to Turkey to act as a deterrent against any spread of the conflict in Syria across the border, Berlin’s foreign and defense ministries said, Reuters news agency reported.
Turkey, a NATO member, said it needs the air defense batteries to shoot down any missiles that might be fired across its border.
NATO approved its request for the missiles on Tuesday. The Netherlands and the United States also plan to provide Patriot batteries. Deployment is expected to take several weeks.
“The strengthening of the integrated NATO air defense in Turkey is a purely defensive measure which, as a military deterrent, will prevent the conflict within Syria spreading to Turkey,” said the two ministries.
“The deployment does not represent the establishment of or monitoring of a no-fly-zone over Syrian territory or any other offensive step,” they added.
The Patriot deployment will come under the command of SACEUR Allied Troops in Europe, which can also order the use of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), said the ministries.
However, Syria and its allies Russia and Iran have criticized the decision on the missiles, saying it increases regional instability.
Approval from Germany’s Bundestag lower house is not expected to be a problem although some opposition lawmakers, mainly Greens, are against the deployment due to fears of getting caught up in a wider regional conflict.