Netherlands sends Patriot missile batteries to Turkey

geraphian20130107142539173The Netherlands is shipping two Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, following a similar move by the United States and Germany.

The shipment is part of a NATO contingent of Patriot missile batteries to be stationed on Turkey’s border with Syria. Ankara claims the Patriots are needed to protect Turkey against the spillover of the conflict in Syria.

The Dutch military will also deploy 360 soldiers to operate the batteries. The arrival of the troops will begin on Tuesday.

The United States and Germany have sent two such batteries each along with troops to the southern Turkish border region.

Each Patriot missile battery has an average of 12 missile launchers. All the six batteries are scheduled to be operational by the end of January.

The NATO military alliance approved a request by Turkey for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles in the border region on December 4, 2012. However, thousands of Turkish people held demonstrations against the military plan later.

Syria has also censured the plan, calling it another act of provocation by the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The crisis in Syria began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in July 2012 that Turkey “has supplied all logistic support to the terrorists who have killed our people.”

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