Turkey’s government and military have welcomed a decision by NATO ally Spain to station a squadron of Patriot surface-to-air missile systems and send 130 servicemen to Turkey.
A senior diplomat said the decision denoted critical help from an ally at a most critical time.
“Our southern [Syrian] and southeastern [Iraqi] borders are under serious threat, and the deployment will help us better counter any attack from across these borders,” he said.
Turkey shares a nearly 900-mile border with Syria and Iraq.
A military official said: “The Spanish deployment will add to our capabilities of defending critical sites from the threat of missile attack.”
Spain has said that its decision to deploy the Patriot batteries came as part of NATO’s operation to protect civilians from possible attacks from the air and ballistic missile strikes on the southeastern border of the alliance.
Spanish batteries will be deployed in the region of Adana in southern Turkey. Both the missiles and the servicemen will arrive in Turkey in January.
They will replace Dutch Patriots that had been deployed earlier. In August, the Netherlands announced that it no longer had the resources to maintain the batteries on Turkish soil, prompting Turkey to seek a replacement.
In 2012, Turkey had Patriot missiles stationed in Adana, Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep provinces. Six Patriot batteries were sent to Turkey by the Netherlands, the US and Germany as part of a NATO decision to boost Turkey’s air defenses. The US and German batteries remain stationed.