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Jordan aid to rebels raises tensions with Syria

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan tightened security along its border with Syria, doubling the number of soldiers as President Bashar Assad’s regime warned Thursday the kingdom is “playing with fire” by allowing the U.S and other countries to train and arm Syrian rebels on its territory.

The warning, coinciding with significant rebel advances near the border, plays into Jordanian fears that its larger neighbor might try to retaliate for its support of the opposition fighters.

The stepped up security also reflects the kingdom’s fears that the chaos from Syria’s 2-year-old civil war could lead to a failed state on its doorstep where Islamic militants have a free hand.

The Syrian warnings followed statements from U.S. and other Western and Arab officials that Jordan has been facilitating arms shipments and hosting training camps for Syrian rebels since last October.

Over the years, Syria has accused Jordan of being America’s “puppet” because of its strong alliance with the United States and a “spy” for Israel, with which Amman maintains cordial ties under a peace treaty signed in 1994.

A Jordanian security official said the kingdom had tightened security along its 230-mile border with Syria, including doubling the number of soldiers in the last two days, though he declined to disclose the size of the force.

He said Jordan was also hoping to receive one or two Patriot missile batteries, which the U.S. might temporarily pull out of the Persian Gulf to station on Jordan’s northern border. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements to the media.

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