Pentagon to send missiles, 400 soldiers to Turkey

US Defence Secretary Leon E Panetta signed an official deployment order Friday to send 400 American military personnel and two Patriot air defence batteries to Turkey as cross-border tensions with Syria intensify.

The American batteries will be part of a broader push to beef up Turkey's defences that will also include the deployment of four other Patriot batteries — two from Germany and two from Netherlands.

All six units will be under NATO's control and are scheduled to be operational by January end, according to Washington officials.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Panetta signed the order as he flew from Afghanistan to this air base in southern Turkey, close to border with Syria. The order "will deploy some 400 US personnel to Turkey to support two Patriot missile batteries," he added, and they will arrive in Turkey "in coming weeks."

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