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U.S. cargo planes carrying Patriot missile parts land in Turkey

ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION U.S. cargo planes carrying parts of Patriot missiles landed at Incirlik Air Base on Monday (January 7). U.S. soldiers who will man the Patriot anti-missile batteries to protect Turkey from the spillover of Syria's civil war began arriving in the country on Friday, the U.S. military said. Turkey formally asked NATO for the missiles in November to bolster security along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, which has been torn by a 21-month insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey repeatedly has scrambled fighter jets along the frontier and responded in kind when Syrian shells came down inside its borders, fanning fears that the civil war could spread to destabilize the region. About 400 U.S. personnel and equipment from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, will arrive in Turkey over the next several days by U.S. military airlift, the U.S. European Command said on its website. The U.S. troops, who began arriving at Incirlik air base in Turkey, will man two U.S. Patriot batteries out of a total of six batteries that have been promised by NATO allies. A contingent of two Patriot air defense missile units also left a Netherlands military base on Monday morning. NATO foreign ministers approved Turkey's request for the Patriot deployment in early December. The alliance said the move was aimed at defending Turkey and it had no intention of intervening in the Syrian civil war, but Syria, Iran and Russia criticized the decision. The Patriot missiles will be stationed near three south-eastern Turkish cities. The U.S. will station its batteries near Gaziantep, a city of around 1.5 million people, which lies further to the east, some 60 km (35 miles) from the Syrian border.

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