BERLIN, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Germany began sending Patriot missiles to Turkey on Tuesday as a ship carrying the equipment left the northeastern German seaport Lubeck-Travemunde for Turkey.
The ship named "Suecia Seaways," loaded with 300 vehicles and over 130 containers, will arrive at Turkey's Iskenderun Port on Jan. 21, according to a German statement issued on Monday.
The two Patriot batteries will be deployed about 100 kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border. Together with another four batteries from the United States and the Netherlands, the Patriots deployment is in response to Turkey's request to NATO against possible missile threat from Syria.
All six batteries will be under NATO's command and scheduled to be operational by the end of January. The Patriots are able to intercept missiles or aircraft.
The Turkish government requested in November that its national air defense be reinforced with the support of NATO air defense elements. In October, several artillery shells from Syria struck a Turkish border town and killed five civilians.
The German government has stressed that the aid defense deployment in Turkey was "a purely defensive measure" aimed at preventing the Syrian conflict from spreading to Turkey.
During the 1991 Gulf war and 2003 Iraq war, Turkey had twice requested NATO for the deployment of Patriot missiles.