Hagel sends army unit to Jordan in response to alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons
A U.S. team has been working in Jordan since last year in response to rumors of possible chemical weapon usage. The recent deployment of U.S. forces is a continuation of these efforts to protect Jordan and other countries that share a border with Syria, including Turkey and Iraq.
The goal of U.S. involvement in the area is "to support broader U.S. diplomatic efforts while ensuring that the U.S. military is fully prepared to protect America's interests and meet our security commitments in the region," Hagel said.
In response to the Syrian conflict, Hagel said the U.S. would be working with allies to keep peace in the region, provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and others affected by the conflict, work towards an end to violence and restore stability and human rights to Syrian citizens, following the end of the Assad regime.
"The goal is to strengthen those opposition groups that share the international community's vision for Syria's future and minimize the influence of extremists," Hagel said.
The U.S. has invested $117 million in non-violent efforts, such as communication measures, to end the conflict. It has also invested $385 million in humanitarian efforts within the country of Syria and has helped over one million refugees directly affected by the conflict.
On a large scale, the U.S. is looking to join forces with the international community that shares an interest in the region. It has called upon Russia and China to provide humanitarian aid as well.
Sanctions are in-place to pressure the Syrian government to move towards stability and peace and were said to have begun having an effect on funding for the Assad-regime. Although the goal is to restore peace and stability to the region, the U.S. is prepared for the worst possible outcome as well, Hagel said.
"President Obama has made clear that if Assad and those under his command use chemical weapons, or fail to meet their obligations to secure them, there will be consequences, and they will be held accountable," Hagel said. "The Department of Defense has plans in place to respond to the full range of chemical weapons scenarios."
Hagel did make a statement acknowledging how U.S. involvement may have grave consequences. He acknowledged the possibility of becoming involved in a proxy war, and with religion at the heart of the conflict, expressed his realization that military tactics might not be predictable.
"Military intervention is always an option, but an option of last resort," Hagel said. "The best outcome for Syria -- and the region -- is a negotiated, political transition to a post-Assad Syria."