Britain has reportedly sent a small number of military personnel to Jordan to help an American effort to contain the potential fallout from violence in Syria, including the transfer of Syria’s chemical stockpile, according to a report in the Times.
Speaking at a NATO conference in Brussels, United States Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta confirmed that US troops are on the ground in Jordan, saying “We have a group of our forces there… so that we can deal with all the possible consequences of what’s happening in Syria.” It is thought that the American presence is aimed at dealing with a possible influx of Syrian refugees and to prepare for any action that may be needed to prevent Syria’s chemical weapons from falling into the hands of dangerous Islamist groups opposing President Assad’s regime.
The Times reports that Britain has sent a small number of military personnel to Jordan to help in this effort. The report quotes a Foreign Office spokesman saying, “We are working with international partners and countries neighbouring Syria to improve border controls to reduce the risk of weapons proliferating to third parties.” Israel has recently expressed similar concerns that Syrian chemical weapons could be transferred to Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence commented in the same article on the UK’s regional efforts, including the containment of Syrian violence, saying, “This work and relationship includes the deployment of UK military personnel to Jordan on a regular basis.” Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary William Hague told BBC’s Radio 4 yesterday that the situation in Syria “will continue to deteriorate. There’s no sign of any breakthrough,” calling it “a deeply frustrating and depressing crisis.”