September 17, 2014 / 7:19 PM / 3 years ago

Spain to replace Dutch in Turkey Patriot missile deployment

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain will send a Patriot anti-ballistic missile battery to Turkey’s southern border with Syria as part of a NATO initiative, Defense Minister Pedro Morenes said on Wednesday, replacing the Netherlands’ contribution to the deployment.

The Netherlands, Germany and the United States had each sent two Patriot missile batteries and soldiers to operate them in early 2013, after Turkey, a NATO ally, called for aid to defend itself against attacks from Syria, on its southern border.

“We will collaborate...with a similar number of units to Germany and the United States,” Morenes said in an address to a parliamentary defense commission.

Spain, which has not been an major participant in these types of international initiatives in recent years, will also send 130 soldiers to operate the missiles, Morenes said.

Spain was among countries which sent troops at the start of the 2003 Iraq war, though they were pulled out the following year following a change in government.

The country has since shied away from taking part in military interventions. Morenes said Spain was still debating whether it might have a role in an international coalition to root out Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, being pulled together and led by the United States.

The Netherlands has said it no longer had the resources to keep its batteries deployed, and will end its contribution to the initiative at the end of January 2015.

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Dominic Evans

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