By Ben Brumfield , CNN
January 4, 2013 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
(CNN) — U.S. troops arrived in Turkey on Friday to man Patriot missile defense batteries near the Syrian border, according to Turkish state media.
Syria has previously launched Scud missiles at cities near the Turkish border in a desperate bid to extend its firepower.
In response, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands deployed Patriot air defense missiles to the border region to intercept any Syrian ballistic missiles.
The missiles and troops will be under the overall control of NATO, but the missiles will be operated by U.S. forces
A group of 27 U.S. troops landed in Gaziantep, Turkey, where they will survey the Patriot deployment, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.
U.S. officials did not release any information about the troops' arrival, but had
"We've made very clear to them that we're going to protect countries in this region," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month. "We have to act to do what we have to do to make sure that we defend ourselves and make sure that Turkey can defend itself."