Germany to withdraw missile systems from Turkey

Germany confirms early withdrawal of its Patriot Missile Defence System and its soldiers operating for NATO mission in Turkey

Germany's President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt listen to commander of German troops in Turkey Colonel Stefan Drexter as they visit Patriot missile batteries in Kahramanmaras April 27, 2014.

Updated Aug 16, 2015

German Defence Ministry on Friday confirmed that Germany is preparing for an early withdrawal of its Patriot Missile Defence System and 260 soldiers operating for NATO mission in Turkey, saying missile attacks from Syria no longer threaten Turkey.

According to German Spiegel online, the government will inform the Bundestag, German parliament, on Saturday about the decision of the pulling back the Patriot Systems which Turkey demanded NATO for the deployment in 2014. After the request the United States, the Netherlands, and Germany deployed the systems on Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province, some 160 km away from Syrian border.

The leave of the German soldiers and Patriot systems were set for the end of January 2016 and until then the number of the troops was to increase to 400, before the unexpected decision of withdrawal.

On August 3, less than two weeks ago, a spokesman for the German defence ministry, Ingo Gerhaltz, said his country had no such an intention for an early withdrawal.

“We are not planning any withdrawal or early termination of the Patriots deployed in southern Turkey,” said Gerhaltz.

During his speech, Gerhaltz also said the presence of the missile systems and the German soldiers were not for ISIS or PKK threats, neither they would be reason for any withdrawal from the country.

Meanwhile, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen surprisingly reacted against Turkish air strikes against the outlawed PKK targets in North Iraq, as well as ISIS targets in Syria.

Turkey Armed Forces launched a campaign of air strikes against ISIS and PKK in Syria and northern Iraq respectively after the militant groups increased its terror attacks following a suicide bombing on July 20 in Suruc district, killing 34 people and injuring many others, for which Turkey blamed ISIS.

Following the Suruc suicide bombing, PKK terrorists have claimed the lives of nearly 40 Turkish security personnels, as well as civilian casualties in several terror attacks.

Although the international community supported Turkey’s efforts in fight against both ISIS and PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey as well as the US, EU, and NATO, the statement by Germany -a member of both EU and NATO- drew criticism from Ankara.

Spiegel online also claimed that United States wants to end the use of missile system in southern Turkey in October 2015, a claim which has not been confirmed either by Washington or Ankara.

TRTWorld and agencies