The U.S. will pull its Patriot air- and missile-defense units from Turkey, the two countries announced in a joint press release Sunday. The U.S. is following Germany in removing its Patriot units from the nation, which is embroiled in a military crackdown on Kurdish militants in the wake of the declaration by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month that the peace process he initiated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2012 was effectively over.
“The United States has informed the Turkish government that the U.S. deployment of Patriot air- and missile-defense units in Turkey which expires in October will not be renewed beyond the end of the current rotation,” the two countries said in the statement. “Other relevant allies have also been consulted.”
Along with the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. deployed missiles in Turkey in early 2013 after the Middle Eastern country requested the assistance of NATO partners in protecting its territory during the escalating Syrian Civil War. The Netherlands concluded its mission in early 2015, and was replaced by Spain.
The U.S. Patriot units will be redeployed domestically for “critical modernization upgrades that will ensure the U.S. missile-defense force remains capable of countering evolving global threats and protecting allies and partners -- including Turkey,” the two countries said in the statement. “This decision follows a U.S. review of global missile-defense posture.”
Germany said it would withdraw about 250 troops stationed in Turkey when the mandate for their air-defense mission ends next year, the Associated Press reported. Germany said the main threat in the region came from the Islamic State group, which doesn’t possess missiles.
“The threat in this war-torn region has shifted in focus,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on the defense ministry’s website. “It now stems from the terror organization Islamic State. Therefore, we will remain engaged in the region in a continued effort to stabilize it.”
German news reports have said Germany plans to withdraw the Patriot missiles and its troops in October, before the scheduled termination of their deployment in January 2016.