Eyes on Syria, US Military Now in Jordan

Outpost is closest American presence to Syria

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 10, 2012 9:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US military now has a presence in Jordan, less than 35 miles from the Syrian border, that it secretly set up this summer; more than 150 specialists are stationed there. Right now, the mission is focused on helping Jordan deal with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, but it's also meant as preparation in case the Syrian conflict mushrooms into a regional one—or Syria loses control of its chemical weapons. As fighting along Syria's borders with Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq intensifies, the US is concerned about the conflict spreading—and Jordan, a key American ally, has already been touched by some fighting along its border with Syria.

Officials say the US may create a "buffer zone" between the two countries, but that's only a contingency plan at this point. Still, the Jordan outpost gives the US greater leeway to get more involved with Syria should the Obama administration decide to intervene—it's currently the closest US presence to Syria, the New York Times reports. Meanwhile, Turkey warned today that its military will use greater force if Syrian shells continue to cross the border, Reuters reports. Fighting between Syrian troops and the opposition intensified today, a day after NATO said it was prepared to defend Turkey if need be.

In this Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 photo, newly-arrived Syrian refugees having crossed the border from Tal Shehab city in Syria through the Al Yarmouk River valley walk towards Ramtha, Jordan.
In this Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 photo, newly-arrived Syrian refugees having crossed the border from Tal Shehab city in Syria through the Al Yarmouk River valley walk towards Ramtha, Jordan.   (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
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