Jordan said on Thursday it was against military intervention in neighbouring Syria, as more US troops head to Amman and amid a warning by President Bashar al-Assad that the crisis could engulf the kingdom.
“Our position on the situation in Syria has not changed,” Information Minister Mohammad Momani told AFP. “We are still against any military intervention in Syria. We urge a political solution to end the bloodshed in Syria.”
Momani, who is also Jordan’s government spokesman, declined to comment on Assad’s remarks.
“At the moment, we will not comment on what the president said in order to avoid any political or security fallout. We are studying the situation,” he said.
In an hour-long interview with official Al-Ikhbariya channel late Wednesday, Assad warned that the fire in Syria could spread to Jordan, which he accused of allowing Syrian rebels free movement across its borders.
“The fire will not stop at our borders; all the world knows Jordan is just as exposed (to the crisis) as Syria,” said Assad.
“I cannot believe that hundreds (of rebels) are entering Syria with their weapons while Jordan is capable of arresting any single person with a light arm for going to resist in Palestine,” he said.
Also Wednesday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel revealed that some 150 US military specialists were deployed to Jordan last year and that he had ordered a US Army headquarters team to bolster the mission, bringing the total American presence to more than 200 troops.
“These personnel will continue to work alongside Jordanian Armed Forces to improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios,” Hagel said.
The US troops were deployed to Jordan to help secure chemical weapons if necessary and prepare for a possible spillover from Syria, where Assad’s regime has been battling rebels trying to oust him since March 2011.
Momani said the US deployment “is part of US-Jordanian military cooperation.”
He had on Wednesday told AFP that the dispatch of US troops was “to boost the Jordanian armed forces in light of the deteriorating situation in Syria.”
Jordan, a key US ally in the region, says it is hosting around 500,000 Syrian refugees.
Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur told parliament on Sunday that the impact of Syria’s war posed a threat to the kingdom’s security and Jordan would seek the UN Security Council’s help to tackle the fallout.