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ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES IN JORDAN

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  • ummyakoub
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-613382,00.html March 17, 2003 ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES JOIN SECRET FRONT IN JORDAN By Ian Cobain and Stephen Farrell
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 21, 2003
      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-613382,00.html

      March 17, 2003

      ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES JOIN "SECRET FRONT" IN JORDAN

      By Ian Cobain and Stephen Farrell


      AS HUNDREDS of thousands of men and machines mass in Kuwait, a highly
      secretive military build-up is also under way on President Saddam
      Hussein's western flank.

      Special forces from the United States and Britain have begun to
      conduct long-range reconnaissance missions from their bases along the
      113-mile border between Iraq and Jordan, military sources have told
      The Times. Remarkably, Israeli forces are also said to be involved.

      Jordan is highly sensitive about military activity in a swath of land
      50 miles deep along its border with Iraq, where residents talk of the
      rumble of transport aircraft landing at remote airstrips.

      Jordan acknowledges that American troops are there, but insists they
      are to defend its own territory and airspace.

      One Western military expert said yesterday: "It is a very discreet
      operation, but the special forces are certainly there. You may not
      see any tanks dashing across the border from Jordan when the war
      begins, but there will be significant special forces activity.

      "These forces are already providing targeting information on Iraqi
      assets — so called Scud-hunting — and as they push east towards
      Baghdad, you can expect to see a very fluid front line."

      The secrecy has two objectives: to keep Iraq guessing and to avoid
      provoking a Jordanian population bitterly opposed to the coming war.

      On Saturday, about 5,000 people chanted "no to foreign troops in
      Jordan" as they demonstrated in Amman.

      The US Air Force is already targeting Iraqi positions in the western
      desert and on Friday a B1B bomber was used for the first time to
      attack an installation just across the border.

      At least 5,000 US troops are already in Jordan, according to an
      official source in Amman. One Western diplomat in the capital said,
      however, that the true figure was nearer 7,000. Thousands more are
      expected to arrive soon, and although some will be training Jordanian
      Armed Forces and manning the three Patriot anti-missile batteries
      defending Amman and the northern city of Irbid, about half are
      thought to be special forces troops.

      Marwan Muasher, Jordan's Foreign Minister, conceded last week that
      the number of foreign troops may have risen to 2,000 or 3,000.

      "We are not denying that there are special forces troops in Jordan,
      we are not denying that there are US troops in Jordan . . . but I
      want to make it absolutely clear that their presence is for purely
      defensive purposes," he said.

      "There are no troops for any offensive operations, and there are no
      troops in the tens of thousands, as has been reported in the press.

      "We have made it clear that we are not participating in this war."

      Scattered among the Americans are an estimated 100 British special
      forces troops, some of whom are thought to be from the Royal Marines'
      Special Boat Service (SBS), the Marines' equivalent of the SAS.

      Intriguingly, members of Sayeret Matkal, Israel's commando force, are
      also said by Western military experts to have carried out covert
      reconnaissance operations inside the Western Iraqi desert. They are
      thought to be pre-empting a repeat of the first Gulf War when Saddam
      fired 39 Scuds at Israel.

      In return for its political gamble, Washington has promised Jordan an
      economic aid package worth hundreds of millions of dollars or more,
      according to one official source in Amman.

      King Abdullah has said that he is confident that Jordanians will
      benefit "economically, politically and strategically" from the
      pragmatic position that he is taking.

      But the official source added: "We wish we had a more understanding
      public."


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