Thursday, April 18, 2013

More U.S. Troops Head to Jordan to Help Contain Syria, Hagel Says

Military continues planning for post-Assad Syria intervention


April 17, 2013 RSS Feed Print

President Barack Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah II in a joint conference in Amman, Jordan. The U.S. is sending more military to Jordan to help contain the violence in Syria.

The U.S. is sending more troops and equipment to Jordan to help contain the violence in Syria, the Defense secretary said on Tuesday, adding the U.S. is preparing some sort of intervention in a post-Assad Syria.

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Secretary Chuck Hagel said he ordered the deployment of a U.S. Army headquarters unit to Amman, Jordan last week. This influx of troops will bolster the existing "small team of U.S. military experts" training the Jordanians in containing Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

"These personnel will continue to work alongside Jordanian Armed Forces to improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios," he said while speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

The U.S. has multiple plans in place to address a chemical weapons threat from Syria. Reports circulated mid-March that the Syrian regime attacked rebels with chemical weapons, which is still under investigation. President Barack Obama said the use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We have been developing options and planning for a post-Assad Syria, and we will continue to provide the president and Congress with our assessment of options for U.S. military intervention," said Hagel.

[READ: Syria 'Chemical Attack' Leaves Both Sides Pointing Fingers]

"The U.S. military is constantly updating and adjusting tactical military planning to account for the rapidly shifting situation on the ground and to prepare for additional new contingencies," he said. "Not only those associated with the Syrian regime's chemical weapons stockpiles, but also the potential spillover of violence across Syria's borders that could threaten allies and partners.

The U.S. has also been working with Iraq and Turkey to protect their borders with Syria.

Hagel said military intervention should be seen as a last resort, as it would conflict with America's humanitarian efforts. To date, the State Department and USAID have sent $385 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria in the form of emergency supplies and food. It has also agreed to supplying the opposition movement directly with $117 million in yet unspecified non-lethal assistance, including medical equipment and communications.

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"We are working now to assess how to allocate and deliver that additional assistance," Hagel said.

The secretary will travel to the region on Saturday to meet with leaders from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Turkey this weekend to discuss ongoing security efforts there.

The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands sent six Patriot missile batteries to Turkey at the end of December to protect its border with Syria from missile strikes.


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