Turkish police have arrested dozens of protesters who condemned the arrival of NATO’s Patriot surface-to-air missiles to be deployed near the border with Syria.
Police arrested 25 protesters on Monday after they tried to get through the barricades at Incirlik Air Force Base in the city of Adana, where US troops are assembling two Patriot missile batteries to be later deployed in Gaziantep near Syria’s border.
Protests were also held in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara outside the US embassy, where angry protesters condemned what they called Ankara’s interventionist policies towards Syria.
Earlier, two ships carrying two Patriot batteries each from Germany and the Netherlands anchored at the southwestern port of Iskenderun in Turkey, as part of a NATO-authorized operation to deploy the advanced armament along the border region.
The six batteries of the US-made missiles, effective against aircraft and short-range missiles, will be deployed in the southern city of Adana and the southeastern cities of Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, along with 350 troops from each contributing country.
In December 2012, NATO approved Turkey’s request for the deployment of the Patriots in its territory. Germany’s Bundestag parliament approved the deployment – limited to one year – on December 14, 2012.
Each Patriot battery has an average of 12 missile launchers. NATO says the missile systems will be operational by early February.
Syria has censured the Turkish plan to deploy the Patriots along its border, calling it another act of provocation by the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.