The first of two US Patriot missile batteries
deployed in Turkey came online Tuesday, NATO officials said, paving
the way for the whole defence system, designed to thwart attacks from
neighbouring Syria, to become operational later in the month.
Four German and Dutch batteries have already been activated in Adana and Kahramanmaras.
"This morning, we activated the first of our two Patriot batteries to help protect the more than 1.5 million people living in and around Gaziantep city," US Colonel Steve Richmond said in a statement.
"With the help of our Turkish military colleagues who are working with us we will have the second missile battery up by the middle of the month," he added.
Once it is fully operational, the Patriot system will protect some 3.5 million people in southern Turkey.
Before the deployment of the Patriot missiels, NATO member Turkey had exchanged sporadic cross-border rocket exchanges with Syrian regime forces.
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