The Hague, Dec 8 (IANS) The Dutch government has decided to send Patriot air defence missiles to Turkey to protect the country against possible air attacks from neighbouring Syria, a minister said.
Last month, Turkey issued a request to NATO countries for the deployment of Patriot (Phased Array Tracking to Intercept On Target) missile systems. The Netherlands will send two batteries of Patriots, accompanied by 360 Dutch soldiers, Xinhua quoted Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans as saying.
It will take several weeks before the Patriots will be installed at the Turkish-Syrian border. The exact start of the operation, which will last for one year, is not yet known.
In recent months, Turkish border villages have been hit several times by mortar and artillery shells from Syria. Patriots are not suitable to stop this type of violence, but the Turks fear possible attacks with chemical missiles.
The Patriot system has been in use by several NATO countries since the 1980s. Germany has also decided to provide Turkey with Patriots.
This is the third time that the Netherlands is sending Patriot systems to Turkey. In 1991 and 2003, the Dutch Patriots were used to protect Turkey against possible attacks by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.