THE HAGUE, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Dutch government decided to send Patriot air defense missiles to Turkey to protect the NATO member against possible air attacks from neighboring Syria, Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans said on Friday after a meeting of Dutch Ministers.
Last month Turkey issued a request to NATO countries for the deployment of Patriot missile systems. The Netherlands will send two batteries of Patriots, accompanied by maximum of 360 Dutch soldiers.
It will take several weeks before the Patriots will be installed at the Turkish-Syrian border. The exact start of the operation, which will last for one year, is unknown yet.
In recent months Turkish border villages were hit several times by mortar and artillery shells from Syria. Patriots are not suitable to stop this type of violence, but the Turks fear possible attacks with chemical missiles.
The Patriot system (Phased Array Tracking to Intercept On Target) has been in use by several NATO countries since the eighties. Earlier on Thursday Germany decided to provide Turkey with Patriots.
It is the third time that the Netherlands sends its Patriot systems to Turkey. In 1991 and 2003 the Dutch Patriots were used to protect Turkey against possible attacks by the Saddam Hussein's Iraq.