By Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Alissa de Carbonnel, Reuters
The United States will deploy Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and F-16 fighter jets to Syria’s neighbor Jordan this month, Jordan said on Tuesday, drawing swift condemnation from Moscow which accused the West of sending weapons to fuel Syria’s civil war.
Jordan said the planes and missiles will be sent as part of an annual exercise to begin in the last week of June. Military sources said the exercises would involve armies from at least 18 countries with more than 15,000 troops.
“These annual exercises will increase the preparedness of the Jordanian army. This year we are in need of more advanced weapons,” Jordan’s Minister of Information Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters.
Final rallies have taken place in south Sudan’s capital, Juba, ahead of Sunday’s vote on independence for the south of the country from the north.
The BBC’s Peter Martell in Juba says there has been a carnival atmosphere as hundreds of people took part in what is called the “final walk to freedom”.
Later this evening, there will be a concert where musicians will celebrate the referendum.
It is part of a 2005 deal that ended a two-decade north-south civil war.
Foreign intervention to oust Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo could ignite a civil war, a spokesman for the president has warned.
West African leaders have warned of military action if Mr Gbagbo refuses to hand power to rival Alassane Ouattara.
But Ahoua Don Mello said such a move could spark an “interior war” due to foreign workers living in the country, AFP reports.
Mr Gbagbo has refused to step aside following November’s disputed election.
Ivory Coast was “a country of immigration” from around the region, Mr Mello said.
“All these countries have citizens in Ivory Coast, and they know if they attack Ivory Coast from the exterior it would become an interior civil war,” he said.
“Is Burkina Faso ready to welcome three million Burkinabe migrants back in their country of origin?” Mr Mello asked.
Millions of West African immigrants from poorer neighbouring states work in Ivory Coast’s relatively prosperous cocoa-led economy.