|Dutch Patriot missiles shipped out to Turkey||
The two Dutch batteries are part of a NATO contingent of Patriot missiles that intercept incoming ballistic missiles. Two U.S. and two German batteries are also being deployed to other parts of southern Turkey.
Dutch defense chief Gen. Tom Middendorp said Monday the missiles will remain in Turkey for a year, AP reported.
The Patriots are being transported by sea to Turkey. They are scheduled to become operational by the end of this month.
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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