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US confirms F-16s, Patriot missiles to stay in Jordan

An F-16 fighter jet takes off on June 30, 2011
An F-16 fighter jet takes off on June 30, 2011. The Pentagon confirmed Saturday that F-16 jets and Patriot missile interceptors will remain in Jordan as defense against a possible spillover of violence from neighboring Syria.

The Pentagon confirmed on Saturday that F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missile interceptors will remain in Jordan after the end of a joint military exercise this month.

"Secretary (Chuck) Hagel has approved a request from the Kingdom of Jordan for a detachment of F-16s and Patriot Missiles to remain in Jordan following the conclusion of the Eager Lion Exercise next week," spokesman George Little said in a statement.

"All other US personnel assigned to Jordan for Eager Lion will depart at the conclusion of the exercise. The United States enjoys a long-standing partnership with Jordan and is committed to its defense."

A US defense official earlier this week said the military will also keep a unit of US Marines on amphibious ships off the Red Sea coast after consultations with Jordan, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Officials have declined to say how many F-16 jets had been deployed.

The United States is concerned about a possible spillover of violence from Syria to its southern neighbor Jordan, a key US ally and one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Jordan is hosting nearly a half million Syrian refugees, and could serve as a conduit for the military support Washington has said it will give to rebels battling against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The decision to arm the rebels came after the United States said it had proof that Assad's forces had crossed President Barack Obama's "red line" by using chemical weapons.

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