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    US Marines from Battalion Landing Team, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, walk nearby a mosque in the desert of Jebel Petra, near Aqaba seaport, south of Amman, Jordan

    US, Jordan Confirm Strong Defense Ties - Pentagon

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Jordanian King Abdullah II confirmed their countries' strong defense ties and continued commitment to destroying the Daesh terror group, the Department of Defense said in a readout on Monday.

    “Shanahan met with … King Abdullah II … today in Washington, DC, to reaffirm the strength of the defense relationship between the United States and Jordan”, Acting Defense Department Chief Spokesperson Charles Summers said in the readout.

    Shanahan and Abdullah discussed a broad range of defense and security issues, including Jordan's contributions to the coalition to defeat Daesh, Summer said.

    READ MORE: Israel Using Jordan Water Project to Keep Daesh, Iran Out of Region — Journo

    Shanahan also thanked the king for his strong leadership and unwavering commitment to regional security and stability, and for his continued bilateral security partnership with the United States, the readout added.

    Meanwhile, the White House disclosed in a readout of the meeting on Monday that Vice President Mike Pence met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to explore a regional anti-terror strategy as the US prepares to withdraw most ground forces from Syria and leave behind a residual force.

    "The two leaders also discussed President [Donald] Trump’s decision to maintain a residual US presence in Syria and opportunities to work more closely on countering terrorism in the region," the readout said. The residual force is intended to protect US-backed Kurdish fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the threat of a Turkish military incursion following the withdraw of about 2,000 American ground forces.

    READ MORE: US-Led Coalition Sees 'No Evidence' of Civilian Casualties in Syria's Baghuz

    The meeting came as SDF forces battled Daesh terrorists in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the final patch of territory in Syria under Daesh control, according to media reports from the scene. During their meeting in Washington, Pence also assured King Abdullah of the Trump administration’s commitment to supporting Jordan’s economy, the readout said.

    Jordan has said little publicly about its role in the US-led coalition fight against Daesh, but the kingdom has been active in the effort, flying sorties against Daesh targets, according to US officials.

    According to media reports, Jordan also hosts about 1.5 million refugees from Syria, most of whom reside and work in large cities; however, tens of thousands still remain in refugee camps, awaiting for their return to Syria. Since the border between the neighboring countries was opened last year, several hundred Syrians have reportedly returned to their homes each week.

    Last year, the global community reportedly provided Jordan $1.6 billion to help it respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

    READ MORE: Israel, Jordan Pursue $2 Billion Project to Pipe Water From Red Sea to Dead Sea

    As the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country's territories that had been seized by terrorists since 2011, it is now focused on creating favorable conditions for repatriating more than 5 million refugees who, according to the UN Refugee Agency, have fled to neighboring countries.

    *Daesh, also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

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    defense, cooperation, US-led coalition, Patrick Shanahan, King Abdullah II, United States, Jordan
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