Italy to continue NATO mission in Turkey: Erdogan

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ISTANBUL: Italy has agreed to extend its air defense system in the southern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras against possible attacks from Syria until September, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on returning to Turkey, says ANSA report.

“For us it is very important,” Erdogan said. The air defence system is operated under the umbrella of NATO. The Turkish head of state obtained the extension during meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Paolo Gentoloni in Rome on Monday.

The Italian SAMP/T missile defence system has been operating at the Kahramanmaras base since June 2016 within the framework of NATO’s ‘Active Fence’ air defence of Turkey.

The Italian contingent comprises approximately 130 soldiers.

Spain also contributes to the NATO mission. ‘Active Fence’ was launched in 2013 to protect Turkey from possible missile attacks from Syria.

In the past Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have also contributed to the mission.—AFP

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