BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The first Patriot missile batteries being sent by NATO countries to defend Turkey from possible attack from Syria are expected to be in place and ready for use this weekend, a senior NATO officer said on Wednesday.
The United States, Germany and the Netherlands are sending Patriot anti-missile systems after Ankara asked NATO for help to beef up its air defenses.
The Dutch army will be the first to have some of its Patriots in place and that is expected to happen this weekend, said British Brigadier-General Gary Deakin, a senior NATO officer.
All of the Patriot batteries are expected to be in place and operational by the end of January, he told a news briefing at NATO headquarters.
"We expect to have an initial operating capability this weekend, that is what we are aiming at ... The first units will arrive on station, they will plug in to the NATO command and control network and they will be then ready to defend the population," Deakin said.
"The full capability we are aiming to deliver at the end of the month," he added.
Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Alison Williams