The United States has decided to deploy Patriot missiles and F16 fighters to Jordan for a military drill and plans to keep the system and the jets there after the exercise.
Pentagon officials said on Monday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved that the missile launchers and the jets will, at the request of Jordan, stay in the Arab country after the joint exercise, called Eager Lion.
The deployment of the missiles to Syria’s southern neighbor will happen several months after NATO dispatched six Patriot batteries to Turkey, the northern neighbor of the crisis-hit country.
The US has already deployed 200 troops to Jordan and 400 soldiers to Turkey.
Sen. John McCain, who went into Syria through Turkey last week and met with militant commanders, told the Jordan Times during his recent visit to Jordan that the missiles could be a “first step” for the creation of a buffer zone for the militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syria situation began to become more complicated last Monday when the European Union decided to end its arms embargo on Syria to pave the way for sending weapons to the militants. The move was sponsored by France and Britain but faced strong opposition from the other European heavyweight, Germany.
The 27-nation bloc’s lifting of the embargo was a hint to Russia that had learned costly lessons from the Western intervention in Libya, which led to the downfall and killing of the North African country’s ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
A day after the announcement of EU’s decision, Moscow said it would send its sophisticated S-300 air defense system to Syria in accordance with a contract it had signed with Damascus, raising fears and concerns in Israel and the West with the US and Germany saying that the Russian missiles would put the security of the Israeli regime at risk.
Russsia, however, said that it adopted the measure to prevent any Western intervention in Syria.
The deployment of the American missiles to Jordan seems to be a response to Russia’s decision at a time the two major powers have failed to agree on a political roadmap to help end the crisis in Syria.