by Ryan Maass
Washington (UPI) Dec 23, 2015
Germany has begun withdrawing its Patriot missile batteries from Turkey, concluding its three-year mandate to support the NATO mission in the region.
The German military initially deployed their Patriot missile systems to Turkey as part of the NATO initiative to bolster its defenses in the country. Germany provided two of the five NATO batteries, in addition to about 250 personnel for the three-year mission, according to Daily Sabah.
While the withdrawal leaves only Spanish Patriot missile systems at the request of the Turkish government, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltengberg says the alliance's mission will continue with air and naval support to boost the country's defense capabilities.
The German government said earlier this year it would not renew its Patriot missile commitment to Turkey, Defense News reports.
While NATO has been supporting Turkish airspace for several years, officials have moved to strengthen their defenses in the wake of the downing of a Russian aircraft that entered Turkish airspace in November.
"This is something we have been working on long before the incident and is separate from the incident," Stoltenberg said.
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