Syrian Crisis: Turkey Getting Patriot Missiles, Some U.S. Troops To Operate Them
"The U.S. will send two batteries of Patriot missiles and 400 troops to Turkey as part of a NATO force meant to protect Turkish territory from a potential Syrian missile attack, the Pentagon said Friday." (The Associated Press)
CNN adds that "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order en route to Turkey, where he is visiting Incirlik Air Base, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters."
Panetta told CBS News that when the systems are in place, in about a month, Turkey "will be able to have a pretty complete defense missile protection system ... because of their concerns about that region and the threats that they think they are confronting." The 400 U.S. military personnel will be in Turkey to operate the systems.
The New York Times says "the American batteries will be part of a broader push to beef up Turkey's defenses that will also include the deployment of four other Patriot batteries — two from Germany and two from the Netherlands. All six units will be under NATO's command and control and are scheduled to be operational by the end of January, according to officials in Washington."
"The deployment approved by Mr. Panetta would mark a sharp expansion of the Pentagon's role along Syria's borders and comes amid increasing U.S. concern that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, under pressure from rebel forces, could resort to using chemical weapons. The U.S. says Mr. Assad recently used Scud missiles as part of his offensive against rebels, alarming countries in the region."