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United States to send troops and Patriot missiles to Turkey

6:56 AM, Dec 14, 2012   |    comments
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(CNN) -- The United States is to deploy 400 troops and two Patriot air-defense missile batteries to Turkey in the coming weeks to defend against potential threats from Syria, defense officials said Friday.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order en route to Turkey, where he is visiting Incirlik Air Base, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.

Little declined to give details of where the two batteries would be located, or to specify how long the deployment would last.

"The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria," he said.

Turkey and NATO insist the Patriot missile deployment would be used only for defense.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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