U.S. troops arrive in Turkey; rebels battle for airport in Syria
U.S. troops arrived in Turkey on Friday to man Patriot missile defense batteries near the Syrian border, according to Turkish state media.
Syria has previously launched Scud missiles at cities near the Turkish border in a desperate bid to extend its firepower.
In response, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands deployed Patriot air defense missiles to the border region to intercept any Syrian ballistic missiles. The missiles and troops will be under the overall control of NATO, but the missiles will be operated by U.S. forces.
A group of 27 U.S. troops landed in Gaziantep, Turkey, where they will survey the Patriot deployment, according to Turkish state news agency, Anadolu. U.S. officials did not release any information about the troops arrival, but had said last month that forces will be deployed to Turkey.
"We've made very clear to them that were going to protect countries in this region," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month. "We have to act to do what we have to do to make sure that we defend ourselves and make sure that Turkey can defend itself."
The fight for the helicopter airport
Taftenaz airbase in northern Syria has been a deadly thorn in the side of rebels for months, which they have not yet been able to remove. Free Syrian Army fighters for the third day tried to wrest control of the helicopter airbase from government forces.
If successful, it would shut down President Bashar al-Assad's military helicopter pads and diminish his airstrikes in the region.
Posted by: tipper 2013-01-04