Spain to send Patriot missiles to Turkey's border with Syria
By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 18, 2014
This article has been corrected.
Spain on Wednesday said it will send Patriot missile batteries and 130 soldiers to Turkey as NATO mulls extending the deployment of missile defenses near the Syrian border.
The troops and missiles are expected to replace Dutch units in Adana, Turkey, when the Dutch withdraw in January 2015.
The Dutch — along with the U.S. and Germany — each deployed two Patriot batteries in early 2013 to protect Turkey’s southern border from spillover from Syria’s raging civil war. The deployment was sparked by sporadic cross-border shelling in October 2012 that killed a number of Turkish citizens.
Initially planned as a yearlong deployment, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands all extended the assignment through January 2015. The Netherlands announced in August that it no longer had the resources to continue the mission and would pull out after that date.
“There has been some work done to find a replacement for the Dutch,” Canadian army Lt. Col. Jay Janzen, a NATO spokesman, said.
The mission was scheduled to end in January, Janzen said.
“Right now, we’re currently doing a review. It looks like it’s going to be extended further because the threat appears to still be in Syria,” Janzen said, “but the final decisions haven’t been made.”
In a news release from NATO headquarters, U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove on Thursday thanked Spain for its decision to send Patriot batteries to Turkey.
“The Alliance’s southern border is located in a difficult neighbourhood and considerable instability remains in Syria and across the region,” he said.
The potential extension of the Patriot missile mission comes as U.S. President Barack Obama is attempting to build a military coalition to deal with the self-styled Islamic State militants operating across Turkey’s border in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has yet to commit to military action against the group, which is believed to be holding a number of Turkish citizens hostage.
The original version of this story had the incorrect last name for Lt. Col. Jay Janzen and the military to which Janzen belongs. He is a Canadian army officer.
Supreme Allied Commander Europe Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove talks to the media after visiting a Patriot missile battery of the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Gaziantep, Turkey, Thursday, July 31, 2014. NATO anti-missile batteries are based in southern Turkey to defend against attacks from Syria. Spain has announced it will send Patriots to the border in 2015.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES