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US Patriot missiles may remain in Jordan beyond Eager Lion - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A US Army Patriot missile air defense artillery battery is seen at U.S. Osan air base in Osan, south of Seoul April 5, 2013. (Reuters/Lee Jae-Won)

A US Army Patriot missile air defense artillery battery is seen at US Osan air base in Osan, south of Seoul, on April 5, 2013. (Reuters/Lee Jae-Won)

Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat—Jordanian officials confirmed that the United States will deploy Patriot anti-missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets along the border with Syria in a bid to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities in case of attack.

According to intelligence sources, the deployment of this sophisticated air defense equipment is set to take place within the coming few days. This comes as part of Exercise Eager Lion, an annual military exercise that will encompass 19 nations and about 8,000 service members this year. Eager Lion is scheduled to start on June 9 and run until June 20.

However, a Pentagon spokesman said that the US could leave Patriot anti-missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets in Jordan following the end of the military exercise.

Amman has already made this request of the US, but defense secretary Check Hagel has yet to review it, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters.

Warren said, “When the secretary receives the request, he will favorably consider it,” adding, “Jordan is a strong partner with us. We have a longstanding and strong relationship with the Jordanians, and we want to do what we can to support their security requirements.”

Asharq Al-Awsat previously quoted informed Jordanian sources who revealed that King Abdullah II had requested the US deploy Patriot missiles along the Jordanian–Syrian border. According to the same sources, Washington promised to withdraw two Patriot batteries from Qatar and Kuwait and deploy them in Jordan.

Jordanian minister of information Mohammad Momani informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Patriot missiles are being deployed as part of the Eager Lion exercise.

“These annual exercises will increase the preparedness of the Jordanian army. This year we are in need of more advanced weapons,” he said.

Momani added that the supply of arms to Jordan is part of the ongoing military cooperation between the United States and Amman, clarifying that the most recent deployment follows “discussions and deliberations between the two states over the past weeks.”

Regarding Amman’s desire to keep the Patriot missiles and F-16 fighter jets following the end of the military maneuvers, Momani said the government will “discuss the necessity of these weapons and will issue its response based on this.”