Jordan To Receive 3 US Patriot Anti-missile Batteries On Feb 6 - Diplomats

AMMAN (AFX) - Jordan will receive three Patriot anti-missile batteries from the US on Feb 6 to bolster the country's defences ahead of a possible war in Iraq, a diplomat who declined to be identified told Agence France-Presse.

"The batteries will be handed over on February 6 and will be deployed around Amman and at the town of Irbid", 80 kilometres north of the capital, the diplomat said.

He said that Jordanian troops had already begun training on the use of the Patriots with US specialists.

"Other American soldiers will accompany the missile batteries and be stationed with them following their deployment," another diplomat said.

He added that the Patriots will be shipped back to the US by the end of the year, or when a US-led war on Iraq is over.

A senior official also said Jordan will not prevent US warplanes from flying over its airspace.

"We will not prevent such overflights, but that does not mean we will formally give our green light," the official said.

The United States would like to base a limited number of Special Operations forces in Jordan that would be able to move quickly into western Iraq to neutralize suspected Scud missile sites and secure airfields and other facilities, sources said.

Regarding Jordan's cooperation, a senior Pentagon official said, "I think we'll be all right there."

The United States conducted exercises last year in Jordan involving about 1,000 Special Operations forces, along with troops from Great Britain, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan.

While stopping short of saying Jordan had given the United States permission to base troops there, Pentagon officials expressed confidence that Jordan will cooperate when the time comes.

"That's what the exercises were all about," one official said.





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