Multinational military exercise ‘Eager Lion’ has been launched in Jordan amid condemnation from neighboring Syria and its ally Russia. The US brings Patriot missile batteries to the Syrian border, which could remain deployed afterwards.
The exercises will last for 12 days, bringing together about 8,000 personnel from 19 countries, mostly Arabic, but also including the US and Europe. The maneuvers will also involve some 3,000 Jordanian and 500 British troops.
‘Eager Lion’ – which is being conducted only 120km from the Jordan-Syria border – is aimed at training personnel for the possibility of the Syrian civil war spilling into neighboring countries.
Russia has raised concerns over the deployment of US Patriot missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets to Jordan: “We have more than once stated our opinion on this – foreign weapons are being pumped into an explosive region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said last week.
“This is happening very close to Syria, where for more than two years the flames of a devastating conflict are burning that Russia and its American partners are trying to stop by proposing to hold an international peace conference as soon as possible,” Lukashevich said.
The organizers of ‘Eager Lion’ say that the troops involved will also train for the possibility of a chemical attack, as Syria’s neighbors fear that Damascus may lose control of its chemical weapons arsenal, which could then fall into the wrong hands.
“We all have chemical training from any activity, so we continue to build those objectives into any exercise that we do,” said US Major General Robert Catalanotti, the Director of Exercises and Training.
Full article: Jordan wargames: Patriot batteries, F-16s and 4,500 US troops near Syrian border (Russia Today)