US sending Patriot missiles & F-16 jets to Jordan for exercises & may keep them there amid threat from Syria conflict

The US says it will send a
Patriot missile battery and F-16
fighters to Jordan for military
exercises and might keep them
there to help deal with the
threat from the conflict in
Syria.
A US official said the arms may be
kept there in light of "escalating
violence along Jordan's borders".
Secretary of State John Kerry said
Syria was at risk of "total
implosion".
Meanwhile, the UN is due to
publish its latest report into
human rights violations in Syria.
The report, the fifth of its kind, is
widely expected to contain more
evidence of atrocities amounting
to war crimes and crimes against
humanity.
It comes amid diplomatic efforts,
led by the US and Russia, to
organise peace talks later this
month. So far diplomats have
been unable to set a date for the
meeting.
'Late'
US Department of State
spokeswoman Jen Psaki said no
decision had yet been made over
whether to keep the missile
launcher and F-16s in Jordan.
"Given our strong alliance with
Jordan and in light of
circumstances in the region and
escalating violence along Jordan's
borders, if requested some
[weapons] may remain beyond the
conclusion of the exercise to assist
the Jordanian armed forces," she
said.
It was not clear how many F-16s
would be sent. Nato already
positioned Patriot missile batteries
near Turkey's border with Syria
earlier this year.
The batteries are designed to
intercept Scud missiles, but could
also potentially be employed to
enforce a no-fly zone.
US President Barack Obama's
administration has been coming
under pressure at home and
abroad to take more forceful
action over Syria.
Speaking of the attempt to
organise a peace conference, Mr
Kerry said: "This is a very difficult
process, which we come to late.
"We are trying to prevent the
sectarian violence from dragging
Syria down into a complete and
total implosion where it has
broken up into enclaves and the
institutions of the state have been
destroyed," he said.
The conference aims to bring
representatives of the government
and rebel groups together to
negotiate over a plan published
last year that provides for a
ceasefire and a transitional
government.
Mr Kerry said the conference was
dependent on "events on the
ground and the participants
themselves".
"The Unites States can push and
cajole... but in the end, the people
on the ground, are going to have
to decide that that's something
they are prepared to engage in,"
he said.
At least 80,000 people have been
killed and 1.5 million have fled
Syria since the uprising against
President Bashar al-Assad's
government began in 2011.