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Jordan

 
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Jordan

June 1967 War and Aftermath

At the onset of the June 1967 War, Jordan had four infantry brigades and one armored brigade in the Jerusalem-Ram Allah-Hebron sector, two infantry brigades reinforced by armor and artillery in the Nabulus area, and one infantry brigade and one armored brigade in the Jordan River valley as reserve for the Nabulus forces. After fighting from June 5 to June 7, the overwhelmed Jordanians were forced to abandon Jerusalem and the entire West Bank, withdrawing across the Jordan River to prevent the annihilation of their army. The Jordanians fought tenaciously, but the Arab air forces were destroyed on the first day of battle by continual Israeli air attacks, leaving the Jordanian army without air cover. Mauled by Israeli jets, those reserve armored units from the Jordan River valley that were able to reach the battle zone were in poor condition to support the infantry. In the Old City of Jerusalem, where Israeli air power could not be brought to bear, Jordan's defense caused almost half the Israeli casualties in the war. Confusion and discord resulted from the Jordanian army's placement under an Egyptian commander and from false reports received from President Nasser claiming Egyptian successes in air and land fighting. Expected reinforcements from Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia failed to reach the battle area in time, leaving the Jordanian army to fight almost entirely alone. Jordan suffered 7,000 killed and wounded and the destruction of its entire air force and 80 percent of its armor.

Since the June 1967 War, the Jordanian armed forces have not been involved in major hostilities, except for the bloody internal battles in 1970 and 1971 that ended with the withdrawal of the PLO's fedayeen from Jordan. The Palestinians were armed with light modern weapons and were entrenched in central Amman and in refugee camps surrounding the city. During three days of stiff fighting in September 1970, one Jordanian infantry division and one armored division gradually gained control of the core of the city. But the course of the conflict shifted when a Syrian division reinforced with armor and a brigade of the Palestine Liberation Army crossed the border at Ar Ramtha. Dug-in Jordanian tanks battered about 200 advancing Syrian tanks before retiring to new positions. The next day Hawker Hunters of the Royal Jordanian Air Force decisively blunted the Syrian attack against a new Jordanian defensive line. The failure of the Syrians to commit their air force enabled the Jordanians to turn back the invasion, taking a severe toll in destroyed Syrian armor. Iraq had deployed a 12,000-man force near Az Zarka but began to withdraw them on September 17, 1970.

Returning its attention to the entrenched PLO militias, the Jordanian army was able to clear Amman and the city of Irbid, which the PLO had also occupied, within a week. A fragile cease-fire was negotiated with the help of surrounding Arab states but intermittent fighting continued in early 1971. The remaining fedayeen were gradually pushed back into a mountain defensive complex in the north. A four-day attack launched in July 1971 resulted in the dispersal of the last PLO holdouts.

Jordan was not a formal belligerent in the October 1973 War when Syria and Egypt joined in attacking Israel. Hussein was asked to open a third front but merely placed his army on alert, defending his action by claiming that Jordan had few combat aircraft and no antiaircraft missile protection. By the fifth day of fighting, the Syrian drive had been broken and Syrian troops, abandoning their tanks and artillery, had fallen back to their Golan Heights defensive line. Jordanian armor was moved into position at the southern end of the line and, along with Iraqi forces, took part in one limited attack before a United Nations (UN) cease-fire commenced. Jordanian losses were twenty-eight soldiers killed and eighteen tanks destroyed. The Jordanian forces fought well but again lacked air cover, and their actions were poorly coordinated with the Syrians and Iraqis.

Data as of December 1989


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