BRUSSELS — NATO on Dec. 14 welcomed a U.S. order to deploy two Patriot missile batteries and some 400 personnel near Turkey’s border with Syria while insisting the move was purely defensive.
“We welcome the United States’ contribution of two Patriot missile batteries to augment Turkey’s air defenses,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued the order to deploy the Patriots before landing in Turkey.
“This is a strong commitment to Alliance solidarity and security,” Lungescu said.
“The deployment will be defensive only. It will not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation,” she added.
“Its aim is to deter any threats to Turkey, to defend Turkey’s population and territory and to de-escalate the crisis on NATO’s southeastern border.”
NATO also welcomed the intention of Germany and The Netherlands to contribute two batteries each.
The deployment aims to bolster Turkey’s air defenses amid tension on the Turkish-Syrian border.