Monday, June 17, 2013

U.S. Troops, Missiles at Syrian Border

The New American
June 17, 2013



U.S. Troops, Missiles at Syrian Border
A task force of 300 U.S. Marines and a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system have been deployed along Syria's border with Jordan as the United States prepares to ship weapons to rebel forces in the two-year-old civil war in Syria that has so far taken an estimated 93,000 lives. The missile system and as many as eight F-16 fighter jets will likely remain in Jordan following the multi-national military exercise now underway in Jordan, military officials told NBC News. Meanwhile, speculation continues over the possible establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria to thwart aerial attacks on the rebels by the Bashar al-Assad regime. U.S. officials appeared to be downplaying that possibility, while at the same time not ruling it out.
"We have been clear that we are not excluding options, but at this stage no decision has been taken," Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and President Obama's incoming national security adviser, told the Reuters news service.
The United States and Great Britain imposed a no-fly zone against the air force of Saddam Hussein during the 12 years between the two Iraq wars, and a U.S. and NATO air defense of rebel factions in Libya helped topple the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. But Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes said Thursday that a similar effort in Syria would face greater obstacles, including "open-ended costs for the United States and the international community." "It's far more complex to undertake the type of effort, for instance, in Syria than it was in Libya," Rhodes said. U.S. planes over Syria would be up against sophisticated anti-aircraft systems from Russia, a major supplier of weapons to the Damascus government.
Russia condemned the decision to provide weapons to the rebels, along with the military exercise, called Eager Lion, taking place within 75 miles of the Syrian border in northern Jordan. About 5,000 U.S. troops are among the 8,000 military personnel from Western and Arab nations taking part in the three-week exercise that began June 9. It will end with "a massive display of sea-land capabilities, June 18-20," the U.S. Army News Service announced
"This is happening very close to Syria, where for more than two years the flames of a devastating conflict are burning that Russia and its American partners are trying to stop by proposing to hold an international peace conference as soon as possible," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich protested.

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