Germany Pulls Patriot Missile Defense Systems From Turkey

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Germany has removed two Patriot missile air defense complexes and 250 personnel from Turkish territory, news agency Anadolu has reported. Berlin had earlier announced the mission’s mandate would expire in January 2016, after a three-year deployment.

Germany cited a “low ballistic missile threat,” as well as the “high costs of the mission” as reasons for the pullout.

The German Patriots were disassembled into parts and loaded on the Britannia Seaways, a Danish ro-ro ship at Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Iskenderun near the country’s border with Syria. The system composes of 380 different parts. The complexes were loaded on a Danish ship which left the Turkish port of Iskenderun, bound for Germany.

The German withdrawal leaves only Spanish Patriots systems in Turkish territory, after Spain has agreed to extend its Patriot mandate in Turkey to help protect the Turkish territory. The systems are stationed in the southern province of Adana near the Incirlik military base where U.S. and allied forces carry out airstrikes against radical jihadist strongholds in Syria.

NATO claims that despite Germany and, earlier, the US’ Patriot systems’ withdrawal from Turkey, the country will not remain defenseless. On Dec. 18 NATO allies agreed to augment Turkey’s southern borders and airspace by sending aircrafts and ships.

The world’s willingness to place alternative protection might have more to do with the Russian Su-24 bomber downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet in Syrian airspace on November 24 than with the threat of missiles attacking Turkey. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said recently that NATO is seeking to deploy more aircraft and command ships to Turkey in order to boost the country’s defense capabilities, following the incident.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is expected to deploy additional military aircraft to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base in Adana, while German Tornado jets will arrive to Incirlik to conduct exploratory flights. Denmark and Germany are also expected to deploy additional command ships to NATO forces in the Mediterranean. Danish frigates will be assigned to provide electronic intelligence and “protect” Turkey from Russian S-400 missile air defense complexes recently deployed in Syria at the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.