A Patriot missile battery stationed in the southeastern province of Gaziantep will be replaced as part of maintenance procedures, the Turkish General Staff said today Hurriyetdailynews reported.
A U.S. ship carrying a new battery arrived at İskenderun Port on Nov. 10, while the new equipment and materials were dispatched to Gaziantep on Nov. 13, the announcement posted on the official website of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said, noting that the old Patriot missile battery would be sent back to the United States on Dec. 8 for maintenance.
Turkey, a NATO member, appealed to the alliance last year for the protection of its border from any threats from Syria. The Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. deployed Patriot missile batteries in the southern provinces of Adana and Kahramanmaras, as well as Gaziantep, under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Turkey asked for protection from its NATO allies after a mortar bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians in the border town of Akçakale in October last year.
Originally used as an anti-aircraft missile, Patriots today are used to defend airspace by detecting and destroying incoming missiles. Patriots were deployed after NATO and Turkey signed an agreement on Jan. 12 this year. Turkey last week asked NATO to extend the deployment of Patriot missiles for another year.