04/19/2013, 00.00
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Some 200 US troops to arrive in Jordan

According to Amman, their presence is linked to annual military manoeuvres. A government minister said they are coming to help counter chemical attacks. US sources say they will also provide training. However, the troops come from a unit that specialises in intelligence, logistics and operations.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - A group of 200 US troops will soon arrive in Jordan. Officials from both nations confirmed the report, but offered different explanations for their presence.

US troops will soon be landing in Jordan to partake in the Kingdom's annual 'Eager Lion' drill in June, involving involved 19 Arab and non-Arab countries, the Jordan News Agency Petra reported on Thursday. Their presence is unrelated to the Syrian conflict.

Jordan's Minister of Communications, Mohammad Momani, added that the Americans are coming also to help counteract any chemical threat that could come from Syria and for training in rescue operations.

For his part, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel said US soldiers would also be tasked with training Jordanian troops. The 200 American soldiers, however, are part of the First Armored Division, which, among other things, specialises in intelligence operations.

In the United States, the move is seen as part of President Obama's pledge to provide resources, training, and operational capabilities to Syrian rebels, reluctantly though because they might fall in the hands of extremist groups or lead to the US bogged down in another proxy war.

But the Los Angeles Times is reporting that they might be part of plans to expand the force to 20,000 or more if necessary.


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