Turkey to deploy first S-400 missiles to Syrian border: report

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Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile launching system is displayed at the exposition field in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 22, 2017 during the first day of the International Military-Technical Forum Army-2017. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV

Turkey plans to deploy the initial battery of S-400 air defense missiles, due to arrive from Russia this week, to Şanlıurfa province along the Syrian border, the pro-government Milli Gazete newspaper reported, according to the Ahval news website.

Following detailed field analyses, Turkey’s military decided to deploy the first battery of the Russian missile system to Şanlıurfa’s Birecik district, which is considered the midpoint of Turkey’s 910-kilometer border with Syria. It is also near the Syrian village of Ashme, which is home to the tomb of Süleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire.

Some analysts see this move from Turkey as aligned with its broader thinking on the S-400 deal. In an analysis for the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, columnist Seth Franzman argued that Turkey’s S-400 purchase was less about defending itself than about Syria.

“Turkey wants the S-400 not because it needs it to defend its airspace but because it will give it leverage over Russia’s role in Syria,” Franzman wrote. “Russia is willing to concede some issues in northern Syria in return for closer cooperation with Turkey.”

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