The first of what will ultimately be about 400 US soldiers arrived in southern Turkey today to operate Patriot missile batteries deployed along the Syrian border at the behest of the Turkish government.
NATO officials have cited the firing of Scud-type missiles inside Syria as the justification, though the decision to send Patriot missiles came before any Scuds were confirmed, and none of those Scuds have landed anywhere near Turkey at any rate.
US officials say they “welcome the opportunity to support the Turkish government’s request” and deploy troops, reiterating that the deployment is for purely “defensive purposes” and not part of any broader plan for a NATO invasion of Syria.
Protests have been held in Turkey in anticipation of the deployments, with many fearing the addition of what will be around 1,000 NATO troops (including German and Dutch forces) will turn southern Turkey into a battlefield and destabilize the entire region.
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