U.S. Troops Man Patriot Missiles

Near Turkey-Syria Border

United States troops arrived in Turkey on Friday, January 4, 2013, in order to man Patriot missile defense systems near the Turkey-Syria border. According to various Turkish news media, the troops number 27, and are to be under the command of NATO, though the Patriot batteries still fall under the direct control of the U.S. The reinforcement comes as violence escalates throughout Syria, with a car bomb killing 10 people at a gas station in Damascus, as well as a rebel-led assault on Taftanaz Air Base. The air base is a major helicopter airport in northern Syria, and its capture would severely detract from the government’s control of the region. Both opposition and government news sources have reported that Nusra Front, a group identified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, also participated in the assault. Unconfirmed opposition reports indicate that the assault was successful, though no evidence has been uncovered either way. The surge in violence left as many as 129 people dead on Friday, with an estimated death toll of 60,000 for the entire conflict. The call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be tried in court for war crimes received considerable support this past Sunday, as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy spoke out in condemnation of the Syrian president’s actions.

Source: Near Turkey-Syria Border