There were emotional farewells at the Eindhoven air base for 50 Dutch and German soldiers from the advance party bound for the Turkish-Syrian border.
Their task will be to prepare for the arrival of Patriot missile batteries later this month. All are aware of the possible threat they could face.
“We know that the Syrian government has already fired, launched Scud missiles inside Syrian territory. We also know they have longer-range ballistic missiles which can basically threaten the city which we are going to defend. So we are going to defend a Turkish city against this long-range ballistic missile threat,” said their commanding officer Colonel Erik Abma.
As the troops toasted their departure, five convoys with two Dutch Patriot batteries left for the port of Eemshaven to start their two-week voyage to Turkey.
The advance party will be joined by the rest of the European soldiers, totalling around 1,000, towards the end of the month.
The Netherlands, Germany and the United States are each sending two Patriot missile batteries which will be stationed around three south-eastern Turkish cities. The Dutch missiles are expected to be operational by January 26.