|1000s of Turks say no to NATO missiles near Syrian border||
The demonstration was held on Sunday in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, one of the three cities where the missile batteries are expected to be deployed. The other two cities are Kahramanmaras and Adana.
The demonstrators chanted slogans against the presence of foreign forces in their city, and condemned the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands for their plans to provide troops and six Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, Press TV reported.
The U.S. and Germany will provide two Patriot batteries and 400 troops each to man the missiles. The Netherlands will also dispatch 360 soldiers and the other two batteries.
According to a NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Western alliance’s regulations do not allow him to speak on record, each Patriot battery has an average of 12 missile launchers.
Some of the troops have already arrived in Turkey, but the missiles will be deployed and fully functional by the end of January.
The deputy chief of the U.S. European Command, Navy Vice Admiral Charles Martoglio stated that the Patriots are not meant for “any offensive operation” in Syria.
On November 21, Turkey formally asked its NATO partners to deploy the Patriot missiles to defend its border with Syria.
On December 4, NATO agreed to send Patriot missiles to Turkey.
"To the Turkish people we say: We are determined to defend you and your territory. To anyone who would want to attack Turkey we say: Don't even think about it," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the Western alliance made the decision in Brussels.
Russia says the threats facing Ankara have been exaggerated to justify NATO’s deployment of advanced Patriot missiles in Turkey along the Syrian border.
Moscow also says that the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey would create “the risk that these arms will be used.”
In addition, Damascus has censured Ankara’s plan to host the Patriot missiles along the Syrian border, calling it another act of provocation by the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against Syria.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
Western states have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. However, Russia and China are strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals, mostly from Egypt, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia.
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