Dutch to send Patriot missiles to Turkey

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iol news pic Mark Rutte REUTERS Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Amsterdam - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government has agreed to send two Patriot missile systems to beef up Turkey's air defences and calm its fears of coming under missile attack, possibly with chemical weapons, from Syria.

As many as 360 personnel will accompany the surface-to-air batteries which can intercept missiles and planes. It has not yet been decided where near Syria's border they will be sited.

“The Dutch deployment of Patriot systems aims to protect the population and territory of NATO ally Turkey and contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the southeastern borders of the Alliance,” the government said in a statement.

Turkey, which has taken in thousands of refugees from Syria, has repeatedly scrambled jets along the border and responded in kind when shells from Syria's civil war come down in its territory, underlining fears the conflict could spread to destabilise the region.

NATO approved Turkey's request for air defence batteries on Tuesday, and Germany's cabinet agreed on Thursday to send Patriot missiles and up to 400 soldiers.

Earlier on Friday, Russia accused NATO of moving towards involvement in the Syrian conflict, in spite of NATO assurances that the Patriots, are intended purely for defensive purposes. - Reuters

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