Updated at: 12/07/2012 9:05 AM
(AP) THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Dutch government approved a NATO request Friday to send two batteries of Patriot missile defense systems to Turkey, following in Germany’s footsteps, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.
Parliament must sign off on the Cabinet decision, but Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s two-party coalition has a comfortable majority in the 150-seat lower house, so the vote is expected to be a formality.
The Dutch decision comes a day after Germany agreed to send two Patriot batteries and troops to Turkey’s southern border with Syria at NATO’s request.
The Western alliance approved sending the weapons to prevent cross-border attacks against Turkey after mortar rounds and shells from Syria killed five Turks.
"It is very restive along the border, with escalating violence and the risk that it could spill over into neighboring countries," Timmermans told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
Timmermans said a maximum of 360 Dutch troops will also be sent to operate the Patriot systems in a yearlong deployment.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)