The order for the deployment of two Patriot missile batteries and 400 US troops to operate them was signed Friday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he travelled to Turkey, a spokesman said.
"We are deploying two Patriot batteries here to Turkey along with the troops that are necessary to man those batteries, so that we can help Turkey have the kind of missile defense it may very well need in dealing with threats that come out of Syria," US media quoted Panetta as saying during a visit to the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.
Panetta’s spokesman, George Little, described Turkey as a “very strong ally” of the United States and said the missile and troop deployment would be for “an unspecified period of time.”
"The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies, is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria," Little told US reporters travelling with Panetta.
Refugees fleeing the 20-month-old conflict in Syria have poured over the border into Turkey and shells from the fighting have occasionally fallen into Turkish territory, raising concern that the volatile situation in Syria could destabilize areas outside the country’s borders.