US sends forces to Jordan in case of Syrian escalation

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Jordan-Syria map

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BRUSSELS (AP) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the United States has sent troops to the Jordan-Syria border to help build a headquarters in Jordan and bolster that country’s military capabilities in the event that violence escalates along its border with Syria.

Speaking at a NATO conference of defense ministers in Brussels, Panetta said the U.S. has been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and also to help Jordan deal with refugees pouring over the border from Syria.

But the revelation of U.S. military personnel so close to the 19-month-old Syrian conflict suggests an escalation in the U.S. military involvement in the conflict, even as Washington pushes back on any suggestion of a direct intervention in Syria.

It also follows several days of shelling between Turkey and Syria, an indication that the civil war could spill across Syria’s borders and become a regional conflict.

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