ANKARA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made a surprise visit to Incirik Base in southern Turkey on Friday to deploy Patriot missiles, local newspaper Today 's Zaman reported on its website.
Panetta's visit came as he signed orders to send two Patriot missiles and 400 military personnel to Turkey, as part of the NATO 's agreement to deploy Patriot missiles along Turkey's southeastern border in case the Syrian crisis spills over.
A total of six Patriot missile batteries will be sent to Turkey -- two from the United States, two from Germany and two from the Netherlands. All six batteries will be under NATO's command and all six are scheduled to be operational by the end of January.
The 21-month protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has turned increasingly bloody, with heavy fighting often erupting along Syria's border with Turkey.
Each battery to be sent to Turkey reportedly has four to six missile launchers and each launcher has the capacity of launching 16 missiles.