NATO personnel have begun arriving at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to operate Patriot missiles intended to repel possible airborne attacks related to Syria's nearly two-year old civil war.
Patriot surface-to-air missile battery on a training ground in Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, Feb. 15, 2012 (file photo).
A statement from the U.S. European Command Friday says that more troops and equipment are scheduled to arrive in southern Turkey over the next few days. These are the first batteries of Patriot missiles deployed, to be followed by two more from Germany and the Netherlands, in response to a Turkish request.
Navy Vice Admiral Charles Martoglio, deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, says the Patriot-missile batteries will fall under NATO command when set up along the Turkish-Syrian border, and the systems should be operational by the end of January.
NATO approved the deployment of the surface-to-air missiles early last month after Turkey expressed concerns that Syria could use chemical weapons against its own people. NATO has stressed that the deployment is for "defensive purposes" only.