NATO officially confirmed Saturday that US troops began arriving at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to support NATO’s deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries near the border with Syria.
NATO approved a Turkish request for the missile batteries on Nov. 30 following the firing of several shells from Syria into Turkey. Turkish officials also expressed concern about threats from the Syrian regime to fire Scud missiles into its territory, AFP reported.
The Patriot systems are scheduled to become operational later this month. NATO officials called the systems purely defensive and not a prelude to establishing a no-fly zone or beginning offensive operations into Syria.
Six Patriot battery units will be operated by troops of their respective countries. The US and Germany are sending about 400 troops each, while the Netherlands will have around 360 soldiers manning their Patriot missiles, according to Associated Press.
NATO approved the deployment of Patriot batteries last month, after a request filed by Turkey in order to defend itself from a possible air attack by Syria.
The duration of the deployment will be determined by the contributing nations, in coordination with Turkey and NATO, According to the Stuttgart, Germany-based US European Command.
Military experts have said that Patriot missile batteries consist of a command post, one radar and 12 missile launchers. The response by the missile battery would be nearly automatic, firing interceptor missiles to destroy the target by ramming into it, a tactic the military calls “hit to kill.”
The deputy chief of US European Command, Navy Vice Admiral Charles Martoglio, said the Patriots deployed near the border with Syria are not meant for any offensive operation in Syria. NATO chiefhas also assured that the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey is for purely defensive reasons.
Media outlets reported that the German and Dutch missiles are expected to be loaded onto ships in European ports on Jan. 22. However, a group of German and Dutch servicemen will come to Turkey to help Turks manage these systems next week.
Syria's allies slammed the move, as they believe the deployment of Patriot air-defense systems will amount to the imposition of a no-fly zone for Syrian aircraft, in circumvention of the UN Security Council.
In response to the deployment of Patriot batteries, Israeli news website DEBKAfile mentioned that Syria received Iskander missiles from Russia and has deployed them along the adjacent border with Israel and Jordan. This news has not yet been confirmed by any other source.
Is the third world war approaching? Is Turkey really feeling the danger of Syrian regime missiles? Why is Iran so concerned about the deployment of Patriot missiles on the Turkish-Syrian border, more than any other country?
These many questions do not find any easy answers, but rather assurances from NATO that the deployment of these missiles is only to protect and defend Turkey.
Is the news reported by DEBKAfile real or just a rumor? Why didn't Russia declare that it provided the Syrian regime with Iskander ballistic missiles? Russia has previously said it will continue implementing agreed weapons contracts with the Syrian regime. Furthermore, Russia cannot hide the fact that it is providing weapons to the Syrian regime until now.
I guess that a war against Iran is looming, as an analysis of the Syrian army at the moment states that the army has no control of any of the provinces within Syria, except the provinces of the Syrian coast. Therefore, it is impossible for the regime to get involved in a war against Turkey.
Another possibility is that an opposition faction fires Scud missiles at Turkey, as this will be a good excuse for striking Syrian military sites without the need of Security Council approval.
For your information, Scud missiles are significant because of the potential to put chemical and biological warheads inside them, thus inflicting huge amounts of damage at long distances.
Apparently 2013, as astrologers predicted, will be a hot year on the political level. We will have to wait and see as great incidents will continue to take place one after the other. Not much can be done, but we can pray nobody gets hurt.