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NATO allies to shortly announce new air defense assistance to Turkey

NATO allies to shortly announce new air defense assistance to Turkey

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Date: 23 December 2015 23:47

The alliance agreed on Friday to provide Ankara with an air defense package that will include AWACS surveillance planes, enhanced air policing, and increased naval presence, Sputnik reported.

Earlier in December, Spain announced it would deploy its Patriot missile systems in Turkey.

"We welcome Spain’s decision to extend its Patriot deployment to Turkey in 2016, and we expect other announcements shortly," the official said. "Allies will also deploy aircraft to support Turkey’s air defences on a bilateral basis."

The NATO official added that the allies were committed to the defense of Turkey and “will contribute to increasing stability in the region."

Spain deployed two US-developed Patriot air defense missile systems and 130 troops to Turkey at the beginning of 2015 due to the conflict in Syria and the escalation of the situation in Iraq.

In October, the US-owned Patriot missiles were removed from Turkey for refurbishment. NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said later in the month that the missiles would not be returned to the country, but the military bloc's allies would take steps to defend Turkish airspace.

Germany has moved its Patriot air-defense systems out of Turkey as its military mission in the country expires next month, according to media reports earlier on Wednesday.

"We fully respect the national decision taken by the German government a few months ago," the official said.

The NATO official added that the alliance’s commitment to the defence of all its members is "steadfast."

On December 18, NATO allies agreed to provide Ankara with an air defense package that would include AWACS surveillance planes as well as increased air policing and naval presence.

"We are also reviewing long standing defence plans for Turkey. And we will continue to augment Turkey’s air defences with defensive anti-missile systems," the official said.

German Patriot missile batteries were deployed to Kahramanmaras province in southern Turkey about 100 kilometers north of the border with Syria, along with Patriots from the United States and the Netherlands in early 2013, after Ankara requested NATO's help in enhancing its air defense against Syria.

Spain deployed two US-developed Patriot air defense missile systems and 130 troops to Turkey at the beginning of 2015 due to the conflict in Syria and the escalation of the situation in Iraq.

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