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US, Germany to Pull Patriot Missiles From Turkey

FILE - A Patriot missile installation is shown near the city of Kahramanmaras, Turkey, Feb. 23, 2013.

The United States is withdrawing its Patriot missile system deployed near Turkey's border with Syria when its mandate expires in October.

A joint Turkish and U.S. announcement said Sunday that the air-defense units could be returned to Turkey within a week if the need arises. It said U.S. Navy ships would be present in the Mediterranean to support Turkey's defense.

The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands all deployed Patriots in early 2013 after Turkey asked its fellow NATO partners for help in protecting its territory amid an escalating civil war in Syria. The Dutch ended their mission earlier this year and were replaced by the Spanish.

The U.S. decision comes a day after Germany said it would withdraw about 250 troops stationed in Turkey when the mandate for their air-defense mission ends next year after a reassessment of the threats stemming from the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Germany said the main threat in the region came from the Islamic State group, which doesn't possess missiles.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced Saturday that Berlin would let its three-year Patriot mission lapse in January instead of seeking parliamentary approval to extend it.

Material for this report came from AP and Reuters.