Germany’s cabinet agreed on Thursday to send Patriot missiles and up to 400 soldiers to Turkey to act as a deterrent against any spread of the conflict in Syria across the border, Berlin’s foreign and defense ministries said.
The ministries said Germany’s parliament will vote on the mandate between Dec. 12 and 14.
“The strengthening of the integrated NATO air defense in Turkey is a purely defensive measure which, as a military deterrent, will prevent the conflict within Syria spreading to Turkey,” said the ministries.
“The deployment does not represent the establishment of or monitoring of a no-fly-zone over Syrian territory or any other offensive step,” they added.
The Patriot deployment will come under the command of SACEUR Allied Troops in Europe, which can also order the use of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), said the ministries.
NATO on Tuesday approved Turkey’s request for Patriot missiles to defend its border against Syria following a series of blunt warnings to Damascus not to use chemical weapons.
NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance’s decision reflected a “steadfast commitment” to preserving the security of its 28 member states.
“Turkey is currently the most-affected partner in the Syria conflict. It is exposed to a potential threat from Syria,” the ministries added.
“The deployment of Patriot air defense systems in close cooperation with the Netherlands and the U.S. underlines Germany’s reliability as an ally.”
Turkey is a vocal opponent of the regime in Syria, where monitoring groups say over 41,000 people have been killed in almost 21 months of conflict.
Meanwhile, regime forces waged fierce assaults on rebel positions around Syria on Thursday, including on the outskirts of Damascus where the government is determined to regain control, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting on Wednesday had claimed 104 lives across the country, according to its toll compiled from a network of activists, lawyers and doctors.
In the capital on Thursday, security forces swarmed the southern Zahra district after a car bomb exploded.
The Britain-based Observatory said that according to its initial information no one was killed.
However Syrian state television reported that “Al-Qaeda terrorists exploded a bomb in a car in front of a Red Crescent center in Damascus, causing one death and major damage.”
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were shelling three outlying Damascus areas -- Douma to the northeast and Daraya and Moadamiyet al-Sham in the southwest.