A NATO official has said a Syrian rocket that landed close to a Turkish military unit and slightly wounded five people on Wednesday was outside the areas covered by the current Patriot configuration in Turkey.
The official also stressed the area where Patriots provide protection and the specific locations of their deployment were decided after consultations with Turkey.
The Turkish military said on Wednesday it fired shells at Syrian artillery positions near the border in retaliation for a Syrian rocket that landed only 200 meters away from a Turkish military unit in the Turkish border town of Reyhanlı.
“The [Syrian] missile impacted outside the areas covered by the current Patriot configuration,” said a NATO official in Brussels in an email response to Today’s Zaman.
The NATO official said: “In response to Turkey’s request, NATO foreign ministers decided on Dec. 4, 2012, that NATO would augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities in order to defend the population and territory of Turkey against threats posed by missiles from across its border with Syria. The decision on the location and the number of batteries was based on consultations between allies, including Turkey, and a detailed military assessment jointly conducted with the Turkish military.”
The official also stated that the Patriot batteries are deployed “in a way to provide the greatest possible coverage and the maximum protection of the Turkish people against missile attacks.” The official added that “millions of people are better protected on NATO’s southeastern border as a result.”
The exploding rocket formed a large crater, caused the roof of a military building to collapse and damaged two vehicles. Five people were injured by broken glass, the military said.
It said the Turkish artillery retaliated by firing at the Syrian regime position.
“We remain vigilant and committed to our Patriot deployment to help protect Turkey against missile attacks,” stressed the NATO official.
The countries currently providing Patriots batteries to Turkey are Germany, Spain and the United States.
Turkey has Patriot missiles stationed in the southern provinces of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş and Adana. Six Patriot missile batteries were sent to Turkey by the US, the Netherlands and Germany as part of a NATO decision to boost Turkey’s air defenses against a potential Syrian missile attack. The batteries had been in those provinces since December of 2012.
The Netherlands stated last year that due to economic reasons they would end the deployment of the Patriot missiles they operated in Adana province by December of 2014. Spain, another NATO country, took over from the Dutch and sent two Patriot batteries to Adana…