US sends military troops to Jordan

2012-10-10 17:42

Brussels - The United States has sent military troops to the Jordan-Syria border to help build a headquarters in Jordan and bolster that country's military capabilities in the event that violence escalates along its border with Syria, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Nato conference of defence ministers in Brussels, Panetta said the US has been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and also to help Jordan deal with refugees pouring over the border from Syria.

But the revelation of US military personnel so close to the 19-month-old Syrian conflict suggests an escalation in the US military involvement in the conflict, even as Washington pushes back on any suggestion of a direct intervention in Syria.

It also follows several days of shelling between Turkey and Syria, an indication that the civil war could spill across Syria's borders and become a regional conflict.

Strong relationship

"We have a group of our forces there working to help build a headquarters there and to ensure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so that we can deal with all the possible consequences of what's happening in Syria," Panetta said.

The development comes with the US presidential election less than a month away, and at a time when Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has been criticising President Barack Obama's foreign policy, accusing the administration of embracing too passive a stance in the convulsive Mideast region.

The defence secretary and other administration officials have expressed concern about Syrian President Bashar Assad's arsenal of chemical weapons. Panetta said last week that the United States believes that while the weapons are still secure, intelligence suggests the regime might have moved the weapons to protect them.

The Obama administration has said that Assad's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" that would change the US policy of providing only non-lethal aid to the rebels seeking to topple him.

Increased co-operation

Pentagon press secretary George Little, travelling with Panetta, said the US and Jordan agreed that "increased co-operation and more detailed planning are necessary in order to respond to the severe consequences of the Assad regime's brutality".

He said the US has provided medical kits, water tanks, and other forms of humanitarian aid to help Jordanians assist Syrian refugees fleeing into their country.

Little said the military personnel were there to help Jordan with the flood of Syrian refugees over its borders and the security of Syria's stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

"As we've said before, we have been planning for various contingencies, both unilaterally and with our regional partners," Little said in a written statement. "There are various scenarios in which the Assad regime's reprehensible actions could affect our partners in the region. For this reason and many others, we are always working on our contingency planning, for which we consult with our friends."

A US defence official in Washington said the forces are made up of 100 military planners and other personnel who stayed on in Jordan after attending an annual exercise in May, and several dozen more have flown in since, operating from a joint US-Jordanian military centre north of Amman that Americans have used for years.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk about the mission on the record.

Syrian refugees

In Jordan, the biggest problem for now seems to be the strain put on the country's meagre resources by the estimated 200 000 Syrian refugees who have flooded across the border - the largest fleeing to any country.

Several dozen refugees in Jordan rioted in their desert border camp of Zaatari early this month, destroying tents and medicine and leaving scores of refugee families out in the night cold.

Jordanian men also are moving the other way across the border - joining what intelligence officials have estimated to be around 2 000 foreigners fighting alongside Syrian rebels trying to topple Assad. A Jordanian border guard was wounded after armed men - believed trying to go fight - exchanged gunfire at the northern frontier.

Turkey has reinforced its border with artillery guns and deployed more fighter jets to an air base close to the border region after an errant Syrian mortar shell killed five people in a Turkish border town last week and Turkey retaliated with artillery strikes.

Turkey's military chief General Necdet Ozel vowed on Wednesday to respond with more force to any further shelling from Syria, keeping up the pressure on its southern neighbor a day after Nato said it stood ready to defend Turkey.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-10 18:32

    some more US lambs sent to the slaughter will they never learn? Seems lives are so cheap to the Yanks it doesn't matter what lives are sacrificed as long as the big money interest in Washington is appeased.They will really see the proverbial rear end if they send more troops into a lost cause in the Middle East!Have they not learned yet they cant win wars and never have and anyhow cannot afford them anymore.Obviously the last kicks of a dying empire that has miss spent itself into oblivion.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-10 20:30

      """The two tossers Anthony and Fred speak with nothing to offer but CRAP. Both enjoying having a USA dildo stuck up their behinds, climaxing every 5 minutes whilst jerking themselves off.""" Patrick 05 Oct 2012 THIS IS PATRICK SPEWING OUT FILTH; HOW CAN ANYONE TAKE THIS GUY SERIOUS!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-10 20:33

      Dankie, ""Obviously the last kicks of a dying empire that has miss spent itself into oblivion."" Shame, it must be tough , to live in this crazy fantasy world of yours !!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-11 00:53

      More rubbish Dunkie. Immature, uninformed rubbish.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-10 20:38

    It is about time the USA, starts showing they can do more for Syria, than what they been doing up to now; sending a box of night goggles !!!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-11 02:56

      What are you talking about Patrick? It makes no sense.

      richard.bosmano - 2012-10-11 09:03

      Why do you two get so bothered by patrick,clearly the guy is a bigoted idiot. He's either a muslim supremacist or a E.Cape refugee , who cares what he thinks , his opinion in the world view is on the side of the losers and irrelevant.Folk like him you tell to f off when he begs at a robot,or f off when he starts talking about his religion or mosque

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