US Troops Take Charge of Missiles in Turkey

Meanwhile, Damascus gas station bombing kills 11

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 4, 2013 6:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Twenty-seven US troops have landed in Turkey to operate missiles near its border with Syria. The troops, whose deployment was announced last month, will be in charge of Patriot missiles officially controlled by NATO, CNN reports. Meanwhile, in Syria itself, opposition forces are battling for control of a government-held helicopter airbase for the third consecutive day. A US-designated terrorist group, Nusra Front, is involved in the attack. Rebel control of the site would cut government airstrikes, CNN notes. In response, Bashar al-Assad's forces have attacked a neighboring city, Binnish.

In Damascus, at least 11 people have been killed and 40 hurt after a car bomb attack yesterday at a gas station, say opposition spokespeople, who add that many are in critical condition. Amid a fuel shortage, the station had been crowded, Reuters reports. "There are lots of people who sleep there overnight, waiting for early morning fuel consignments," says an opposition activist. Each side blamed the other for the attack, the second this week at a Damascus-area gas station, the New York Times notes. (In earlier Syria news, a US journalist has gone missing there.)

Smoke rises from buildings due to heavy shelling in the Damascus countryside, Syria, on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
Smoke rises from buildings due to heavy shelling in the Damascus countryside, Syria, on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
People gather at the site of a Syrian government airstrike on a gas station in the eastern Damascus suburb of Mleiha, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
People gather at the site of a Syrian government airstrike on a gas station in the eastern Damascus suburb of Mleiha, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
This Feb. 15, 2012 file picture show a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery.
This Feb. 15, 2012 file picture show a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery.   (AP Photo/dapd/ Oliver Lang, File)
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