BERLIN Dec 6 Germany's cabinet agreed on
Thursday to send Patriot missiles and up to 400 soldiers to
Turkey to act as a deterrent against any spread of the conflict
in Syria across the border, Berlin's foreign and defence
Turkey, a NATO member hostile to Assad which has taken in
thousands of refugees, says it needs the air defence batteries
to shoot down any missiles that might be fired across its
NATO approved its request for the missiles on Tuesday. The
Netherlands and the United States also plan to provide Patriot
batteries. Deployment is expected to take several weeks.
Germany's parliament will vote on the mandate between Dec.
12 and 14, said the ministries.
"The strengthening of the integrated NATO air defence in
Turkey is a purely defensive measure which, as a military
deterrent, will prevent the conflict within Syria spreading to
Turkey," said the ministries.
"The deployment does not represent the establishment of or
monitoring of a no-fly-zone over Syrian territory or any other
offensive step," they added.
The Patriot deployment will come under the command of SACEUR
Allied Troops in Europe, which can also order the use of
Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), said the
Turkey has repeatedly scrambled jets along the countries'
frontier and has responded in kind when shells from the Syrian
conflict came down inside its borders, fuelling fears the civil
war could spread.
However, Syria and its allies Russia and Iran have
criticised the decision on the missiles, saying it increases
Approval from Germany's Bundestag lower house is not
expected to be a problem although some opposition lawmakers,
mainly Greens, are against the deployment due to fears of
getting caught up in a wider regional conflict.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said he expects a
broad parliamentary majority in the vote.
The foreign ministry said the suggested mandate would last
until the end of Jan., 2014.