by JT | Oct 10, 2012 | 18:03
AMMAN – The Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) denied on Wednesday the presence of US military forces assisting Jordan to confront the potential dangers posed by Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles.
In a statement to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, a JAF official stressed that there are currently no US forces assisting Jordan with its humanitarian aid efforts along the borders or countering any dangers posed by Syria’s reported chemical weapons stockpile.
The official stressed that the “JAF is capable of confronting any future threats that may arise” without outside assistance.
The statement came in response to a news report published by the New York Times on Wednesday claiming that Washington had dispatched 150 advisers and strategists to help Jordan cope with the rising number of refugees and prevent President Bashar Assad regime’s potential use of chemical weapons.
The report claimed that the dispatch of military advisers and specialists came as part of Washington’s efforts to prevent the conflict from spilling across Jordan’s borders.
In its statement, JAF stressed that the presence of any international military personnel on Jordanian soil is part of joint training agreements and “have no relations” with current developments in Syria.
The military’s denial came as US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed US-Jordanian military cooperation on Syria, indicating that Washington is working with Amman to monitor Syria’s chemical weapons.
On the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, Panetta claimed that a US team has been working in Jordan to aid Amman in coping with the influx of thousands of Syrian refugees into the Kingdom and prevent the conflict from spilling across its borders.
“We have been working with Jordan for a period of time now… on a number of issues that have developed as a result of what’s happening in Syria,” Panetta said, according to a statement published by the US department of defence.
In addition to monitoring Damascus’ alleged chemical weapon stockpiles, Panetta said the US forces are currently working with Jordan to prepare a potential military response to any escalations in Syria.
“We’ve also been working with them to try to develop their own military and operational capabilities in the event of any contingency there, and that’s the reason we have a group of our forces there.”
Jordanian officials could not be reached late Wednesday to publicly comment on Panetta’s remarks.
In response to Panetta’s remarks, a second Jordanian security source close to military operations in the border region denied the presence of US “boots on the ground”, indicating that a team of specialists from Washington are currently providing Amman with “technical and logistical support” in its efforts to secure the border.
As part of the ongoing military cooperation, Amman and Washington are currently exploring the possibility of establishing a “buffer-zone” along the border region should Damascus move to use its alleged chemical weapons, the source added.