Jordan: No attack on Syria from our soil

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan will not be used as a launching pad for attacks on Syria and the kingdom favors a diplomatic solution to the crisis, a Jordanian government spokesman said Wednesday.

A U.S.-led strike on Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad’s regime likely would involve cruise missile attacks from the sea, which would not need to cross or make use of Jordanian territory.

But the remarks underline the U.S. ally’s efforts to avoid further friction with its larger neighbor for fear that Assad or his Iranian backers could retaliate.

The remarks come a day after Jordan hosted a meeting of top commanders from Western and Middle Eastern countries, including some that are likely to participate in a military action.

“Jordan will not be a launching pad for any military action against Syria,” said spokesman Mohammad Momani, who is also the country’s information minister.

He said Jordan prefers a “diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis” and called on the international community to “consolidate efforts in that regard.”

Tuesday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Arab and Western peers to discuss ways to bolster the security of Syria’s neighbors against possible attacks, chemical or other, by Assad’s regime, a Jordanian security official said. Army chiefs of staff from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada also attended the meeting in Jordan.

Syrian state radio, quoting an unnamed political commentator, accused Jordan in news bulletins Tuesday of participating in a U.S.-led “aggression” for hosting the meeting.

Similar meetings took place earlier this year in Britain and Qatar. The Jordanian official said more meetings were planned in the near future. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak publicly to journalists.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled into Jordan from Syria. On Wednesday, a representative of the United Nations’ refugee agency said as many as 200 enter Jordan daily, but none had come from the area affected by the alleged chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Syria’s capital, Damascus.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, condemned a possible U.S. military intervention in Syria.

“It will not help the Syrian people, but aims first and foremost at boosting American and Zionist interests by weakening and dividing Syria and imposing a political regime that would be a puppet to the Americans,” the group said in a statement.

The group also warned of the “serious repercussions” on the Palestinian issue, saying a weakened Syria would allow Israel to impose “self-tailored solutions to the lingering Arab-Israeli conflict.”

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Associated Press writer Dale Gavlak contributed to this report.

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