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Middle East

Jordan hosts 900 U.S. troops to shield against Syria

  • U.S. soldiers participate in the "Eager Lion" military exercise near the southern town of Al Quweira, 50 km (30 miles) from the coastal city of Aqaba June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN: Jordan's prime minister says the country is hosting 900 U.S. military personnel to bolster its defense capabilities against potential threats from the Syrian civil war.

The first Jordanian public official to speak publicly of the numbers of U.S. troops in the kingdom, Abdullah Ensour told reporters Saturday that 200 of the personnel were experts training for how to handle a chemical attack.

He said the remaining 700 are manning a Patriot missile defense system and F-16 fighter jets which Washington deployed this month in case the Syrian war worsens.

Jordan is concerned its larger northern neighbor would use chemical weapons against Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and other neighboring countries, or that the stockpile may fall into the hands of al-Qaida or other militants if President Bashar Assad loses control.

 
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