US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon September 30, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP
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US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Madrid on Sunday, beginning a European tour amid alarm over Russian bombardments in Syria and the refugee crisis sparked by the conflict.The trip comes at a fraught time for Carter, who started in the Pentagon's top job in February and who faces pressure at home over Syria and a simmering scandal involving military officials allegedly cherry-picking intelligence.The Spanish senate last month approved the establishment of a permanent force of 2,200 US marines at the facility, which was initially bolstered in the wake of the 2012 attack on a US mission in Benghazi, eastern Libya.The main mission of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response (MAGTF) unit is to protect US embassies in Africa, evacuate civilians in difficulty, or intervene in conflicts or humanitarian crises.The US is helping train Ukrainian forces and has sent "non-lethal" military aid.
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