The bundeswehr mission to protect turkey from attacks from syria has begun. The first 20 german soldiers arrived at the sudturk airbase incirlik near adana on tuesday together with about 30 dutch forces. The advance command is intended to support the deployment of "patriot"-prepare defensive missiles 100 kilometers from the turkish-syrian border. The equipment is to be delivered on 21. January arrival in the area of operations. In the port of lubeck-travemunde, around 300 vehicles and 130 containers were loaded onto a danish cargo ship on tuesday.
"The deployment is a clear signal of solidarity within nato", said the commander of the bundeswehr operations command, lieutenant general rainer glatz, at the send-off of the advance command in eindhoven. "We experienced NATO’s solidarity during the cold war, and now we can give it to turkey as well."
A total of around 350 german soldiers and two missile defense systems will be deployed to the area of operations. The USA and the netherlands are also participating with two "patriots" each-staggered participation in the mission. The german contingent is expected to be fully operational by early february at the latest.
The turkey mission is the first major new foreign mission of the german armed forces since 2008. Participation in the anti-piracy mission on the horn of africa was decided at that time. A total of more than 6,000 german soldiers are involved in operations abroad.
Turkey mission is purely defensive in nature. "We are going there to protect the turkish people and to prevent an escalation of the conflict", said the dutch general leo beulen in eindhoven. The range of the missiles is 68 kilometers. This means that they will not be able to reach syria, which is about 100 kilometers away, from their future location in kahramanmaras in southern turkey.
The bundestag had approved the deployment of the weapons systems by a large majority in mid-december. The mandate is initially limited to one year. The cost is estimated by the federal government at around 25 million euros.
So far there has not been a single missile attack on turkey from syria. However, several people were killed by syrian grenades. Turkey then asked nato for help. Bundestag mandate also includes deployment of german soldiers to help monitor turkish airspace with awacs reconnaissance aircraft.
The left was the only parliamentary group to vote unanimously against the mission. On tuesday, defense policy spokesman paul schafer spoke of a "hollow demonstration of alliance solidarity". The federal government is taking it for granted that germany will be drawn deeper into the turkish-syrian conflict.
The head of the security policy research group at the science and politics foundation in berlin, markus kaim, told the dpa news agency: "to contain the syrian civil war and bring about a political settlement to this conflict, the "patriot" is making a contribution-stationing no contribution at all. That’s why I think it’s more symbolic than strategic."