A US military task force of 150 special forces troops and advisers has been deployed close to the Syria border in Jordan as Washington sharpens its focus on the escalating conflict in Syria.
The taskforce’s official role is to help Jordan manage the influx of Syrian refugees and monitor Syria’s huge chemical weapons stockpiles, which the US is determined to secure should the Al-Assad regime fall in the coming weeks or months.
Analysts believe the special forces contingent could also spearhead operations in Syria should the US be drawn into the conflict.
They could also be used to patrol a buffer zone on the Syria border, which has been mooted by the Jordanians who fear the conflict could spill over into the country.
Jordanian troops have been involved in minor skirmishes with Syrian regular army personnel along the border in recent months. Like Turkey, Jordanian border towns have been hit by stray shells from Syrian forces, although Jordan’s government has refrained from a full-scale military response.
The US contingent is stationed at a military base north of Amman, located 56 kilometres from the Syrian border.
The development follows the publication of classified documents by news channel Al-Arabiya detailing Syrian attempts to destabilise Jordan and force a regional confrontation with the US and its allies.
In a communique dated 3 December, 2011, the head of Syria’s presidential security body, Major General Zul Himma Shaleesh, directed the country’s coordinator of foreign operations, Colonel Fouad Fadel, to encourage Syrian agents to agitate for social unrest in Jordan.
“The reports received from Bahgat Suleiman, our respectful ambassador to the Jordanian Kingdom, show that there is tension in the Jordanian street [protests and popular movements against the current regime]. Jordan is fully aware of the situation in our nation and is supplying shelter to the fleeing members of the Free Syrian Army, as well as other anti-regime activists.
“In light of the current situation of our beloved nation, as well as the changes taking place in the regimes of some Arab countries and based on the recommendation by the security committee, it has become our main duty to deal with the crisis and punish anyone who dares to conspire against the state security, so please take the necessary measures,” the document says.