The United States has about 1,500 troops in Jordan and they will remain there until the security situation in the country improves, President Barack Obama told Congress on Friday.
The U.S. contingent, which is equipped with Patriot missile systems and fighter aircraft, is there to help the Jordanian government as it grapples with strains from the civil war in neighboring Syria, Obama said in a presidential letter to lawmakers.
The number increased to the current total when 700 additional U.S. troops joined the existing U.S. contingent stationed there, at the request of Jordanian King Abdullah, the letter said.
The flood of refugees in Jordan from the almost three-year-old Syrian civil war has severely tested the governing capacity of the Jordanian government. Refugee influxes have also placed strains on neighboring Lebanon and Iraq.
The disclosure was part of a notification to Congress detailing U.S. troop deployments abroad as required by the War Powers resolution.
According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), there are currently more than 560,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. The U.S. has pledged nearly $85 million to help aid the UNHRC’s efforts to aid the explosion of refugees.
"These forces will remain in Jordan, in full coordination with the government of Jordan, until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed," Obama’s letter said.
In a Nov. 7 meeting with Jordan Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was “grateful to the Jordanian people for … their efforts in the region to take in refugees to try to deal with other crises.”
“We feel that it is very important for us to respect the generosity that has led Jordanians to open their doors to refugees despite the fact that it is difficult and complicated for the people of Jordan. It’s a heavy toll on the economy,” he said.
Al Jazeera and Reuters