The United States will send a Patriot missile battery and F-16 fighters to Jordan for a drill and may keep them there to counter the threat posed by Syria’s civil war, U.S. officials said Monday.
“In order to enhance the defensive posture and capacity of Jordan, some of these assets may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the Government of Jordan,” Lieutenant Colonel T.G. Taylor said in a statement that was carried by AFP.
The U.S. Patriot batteries are designed to shoot down Scud or other short-range missiles, known to be in the Syrian government's arsenal, and could also be employed as part of a no-fly-zone umbrella or other air operation.
In April, around 200 U.S. Army planners were dispatched to Jordan as the conflict in neighboring Syria worsened.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate briefing, the U.S. has an obligation to think through the consequences of any U.S. military move in Syria and be honest about potential long-term commitments.
His comments were the latest indication that, while President Barack Obama’s administration continues to plan for various scenarios in Syria, it remains wary of an intervention that could mire America in a proxy war.
Jordan confirmed the dispatch of U.S. troops as the Information Minister, Mohammed Momani, said Amman expects 200 American troops.
“They will be here to bolster our training and defense capabilities in light of the deterioration in Syria,” Momani told The Associated Press.
He said dispatching American forces to the kingdom was “coordinated” with the Jordanian government.
Syria’s two-year conflict that started as protests against President Bashar al-Assad has morphed into a civil war, killing at least 80,000 people, and forcing more than one million refugees to flee their homes.