Report: DOD deploys troops to Jordan

The task force of roughly 150 military advisers are en route to the Mideast nation to assist Jordanian forces with the influx of Syrian refugees across its borders, according to The New York Times. 

Aside from humanitarian assistance efforts, the task force is also intended as a stopgap should Syrian President Bashar Assad lose control of his vast chemical and biological weapon stockpiles, the Times reports. 

The task force is already on the ground carrying out those near-term operations with assistance from Amman. 

In September, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that U.S. intelligence officials have been unable to keep up with the rapid movement of the country's smaller caches of chemical weapons by Assad's forces. 

While the country's large weapon stockpiles housed in the country's main repositories have been accounted for, "there has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place. Where exactly that's taken place, we don't know," Panetta said at the time. 

But those movements of Syria's chemical weapons were not an indication Assad's forces planned to use them against rebel forces looking to oust the longtime Syrian leader from power, Panetta added. 

News of the Jordan deployment comes amid reports that American intelligence operatives have accelerated operations along the contentious Turkey-Syria border. 

U.S. officials are eyeing the creation of a covert command center along the Turkey-Syria border to facilitate communications and intelligence support to Syrian rebels. 

The command center would be under the control of Ankara and its allies and located 60 miles from the Syrian border, near the U.S. Air Force base in Incirlik, a government source told Reuters at the time. 

That said, the U.S. task force in Jordan is also looking to set up a so-called "buffer zone" along the Jordan-Syrian border, according to the Times

That zone would be patrolled by Jordanian security forces and backed with logistics and communications support from U.S. forces in the country. 

The buffer zone could help prevent possible skirmishes between Jordanian troops and Assad's forces. Those clashes have already roiled regional tensions between Syria and Turkey. 

Military strikes between the two nations entered their seventh day, with troops on both sides continuing to exchange mortar and artillery fire against targets in both countries. 

Last Thursday, members of the Turkish parliament took the bold step of authorizing unilateral military action against Syria after Assad forces shelled a Turkish border, killing five and wounding nine in the attack. 

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay told The Associated Press the order was not an act of war against Syria, but a guarantee the country's increasingly violent civil war does not bleed over into Turkey.  

For the better part of a year, government troops and paramilitary forces loyal to the Assad regime and rebel fighters have fought to a bloody stalemate in Syria. 

Rebel fighters looking to oust the longtime Syrian leader have managed to launch strikes against Assad's power base in Damascus from strongholds in the northern part of the country. 

But Assad has pounded those rebel outposts in and around the northern town of Aleppo with a barrage of heavy artillery and jet fighters, oftentimes firing indiscriminately into civilian pockets within those areas.