U.S. to Keep Patriot Missiles, F-16 Jets in Jordan Amid Syria Crisis

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approves Jordan's request to keep the weapons there, once the joint Eager Lion Exercises are completed this month.

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The United States will keep Patriot missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets in Jordan after the completion of joint military exercises this month amid the crisis in neighboring Syria, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

U.S. Defense 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," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

"All other U.S. personnel assigned to Jordan for Eager Lion will depart at the conclusion of the exercise. The United States enjoys a longstanding partnership with Jordan and is committed to its defense," Little added.

The Eager Lion exercises being conducted this month are held annually with a theme of irregular warfare and include more than 8,000 service members from about 19 countries, one U.S. official said. The drills will run from June 9 to 20.

"These annual exercises will increase the preparedness of the Jordanian army. This year we are in need of more advanced weapons," Jordanian Minister of Information Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters.

A Patriot missile battery at the base in the Stella Maris neighborhood in Haifa.Credit: Ancho Gosh / Jini

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