By Jeremy Herb - 12/14/12 02:57 PM EST
The United States has agreed to send two Patriot missile batteries and 400 soldiers to Turkey in order to defend against missiles coming over the Syrian border.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order Friday to deploy the Patriots and soldiers at undisclosed locations in Turkey, Panetta spokesman George Little told reporters flying with the Defense secretary from Afghanistan to Turkey, according to The Associated Press.
Turkey requested the Patriot missiles from NATO last month following several instances in which Syrian shells landed in Turkish territory, including one incident in October that left five Turkish soldiers dead.
NATO has said that the move of the Patriot missiles near the Syrian-Turkish border is a move for defensive purposes only and that they are not being used to establish a no-fly zone.
Panetta was asked by an airman at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey whether the Syrians would react negatively to Patriot missiles being deployed on the border.
"I don't think they have the damn time to worry," Panetta said, according to the AP, because Syrian President Bashar Assad is struggling to hold onto power as his forces battle the opposition.