U.S. sending troops, missiles to Turkey to guard against Syria

  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (left) talks with Col. Christopher E. Craige, Commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta stopped to visit troops in Turkey before heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (left) talks with Col. Christopher E. Craige, Commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta stopped to visit troops in Turkey before heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right, walks off of his plane and  shakes hands with 10th Tanker Base Commander Brig. Gen Serdar Gulbas, center, Col. Christopher E. Craige, at left, Commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta stopped to visit troops in Turkey before heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right, walks off of his plane and shakes hands with 10th Tanker Base Commander Brig. Gen Serdar Gulbas, center, Col. Christopher E. Craige, at left, Commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta stopped to visit troops in Turkey before heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta performs a swearing in ceremony to reenlist four troops during his visit to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta is heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan meeting with troops, commanders and Afghani leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)Defense Secretary Leon Panetta performs a swearing in ceremony to reenlist four troops during his visit to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta is heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan meeting with troops, commanders and Afghani leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a visit with troops at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta stopped to visit troops in Turkey before heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a visit with troops at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Panetta stopped to visit troops in Turkey before heading home after spending three days in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, goes to shake hands with Army Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams, right, after Abrams introduced Panetta to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, goes to shake hands with Army Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams, right, after Abrams introduced Panetta to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with troops at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, before boarding his plane and heading back to Washington. Panetta spent three days in Afghanistan meeting with troops, commanders and Afghani leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with troops at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, before boarding his plane and heading back to Washington. Panetta spent three days in Afghanistan meeting with troops, commanders and Afghani leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta walks out with Afghanistan's Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi following their meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta walks out with Afghanistan's Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi following their meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai arrive for their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai arrive for their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, listens as Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, right, speaks during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, listens as Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, right, speaks during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta poses for a photo with troops at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, before boarding his plane and heading back to Washington. Panetta spent three days in Afghanistan meeting with troops, commanders and Afghani leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta poses for a photo with troops at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, before boarding his plane and heading back to Washington. Panetta spent three days in Afghanistan meeting with troops, commanders and Afghani leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta waves as he boards his plane at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. Panetta visited with troops and had meeting with commanders during his visit. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta waves as he boards his plane at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. Panetta visited with troops and had meeting with commanders during his visit. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
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The U.S. is sending two Patriot missile batteries and 400 U.S. soldiers to Turkey as part of a NATO force to protect Turkey from a possible Syrian attack, defense officials said Friday.

The U.S. troops will operate the two batteries at undisclosed locations in Turkey, Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters traveling to Turkey with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who signed the deployment order en route.

Germany and the Netherlands also are providing Patriot missile batteries and sending up to 400 German and 360 Dutch troops to man them, bringing to six the total number of Patriot batteries for Turkey, according to the Associated Press.

Syrian shells from Turkey have landed in Turkey since the beginning of Syria’s revolution in March 2011, after Syrian refugees and rebels fled into Turkey and operated from along its borders.

The U.S. announcement came a day after Russia, a longtime ally of Syria’s government, had said that President Bashar Assad’s regime appears to losing control of the country and that the rebels seeking his ouster could win.

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