A prominent drug trafficker in Syria was reportedly killed by a Jordanian airstrike early Monday morning inside Syrian territory, local reports said.
The event follows Jordan threatening last week to take action against drug smuggling from Syria into its territory, as well as Syria’s readmission into the Arab League on Sunday.
What happened: The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Marai al-Ramthan along with his wife and six children were killed in a “likely Jordanian” airstrike in the eastern countryside of Suwayda in southern Syria near the Jordanian border. The war monitor described Ramthan as the most prominent drug dealer in the region and alleged he has connections to the Lebanese military organization Hezbollah.
Images circulated on Syrian social media purportedly showing the aftermath of the strike.
🔻مقتل تاجر المخدرات مرعي رويشد الرمثان نتيجة غارة جوية على منزله في ريف #درعا يرجح انها أردنية ما أدى لمقتله ومقتل زوجته وأطفاله الـ6
حتى الآن لم يتبنى احد الغارة
الغارة جريمة اي كان المسؤول pic.twitter.com/KkSbL7pb6S
— المرصد العسكري ⧨ (@Military_OSTX) May 8, 2023
The Jordanian news site Khaberni reported that warplanes were heard in Ramtha on the Syrian border early Monday morning.
SOHR also reported that a technical station in Kharab al-Shahm, west of southern Syria’s Daraa, was bombed on Monday. Some Syrian media outlets reported that the target was related to drug trafficking, but details were not immediately clear.
Images of the Daraa attack also circulated on social media.
شن طيران حربي، يرجح أنه أردني، غارات جوية على محطة التنقية القريبة من بلدة خراب الشحم في ريف درعا الغربي، فجر اليوم الإثنين.
وقال مصدر محلي لتجمع أحرار حوران إن القصف استهدف محطة التنقية التي تحوي على مصنع لإنتاج المخد.رات تُشرف عليه ميليشيات مدعومة من حز/ب الله اللبناني. pic.twitter.com/dvFs5iTqqL
— تجمع أحرار حوران (@HoranFreeMedia) May 8, 2023
Why it matters: The incident comes amid Jordan’s concerns about drug smuggling from Syria and ongoing efforts to normalize relations with the Syrian government.
Syria was readmitted to the Arab League on Sunday. Ahead of the vote, Jordan hosted regional diplomats to discuss Syria's return to the bloc. Drug smuggling and border security were some of the issues discussed.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also told CNN last week that the Hashemite Kingdom is prepared to take military action in Syria to stop drug smuggling.
“If we do not see effective measures to curb that threat, we will do what it takes to counter that threat, including taking military action inside Syria to eliminate this extremely dangerous threat,” said Safadi.
The multibillion-dollar trade of the amphetamine-like drug Captagon in Syria is of particular concern to Jordan as well as Gulf states.
Jordan has taken military action against drug smugglers from Syria before. In January 2022, Jordanian border guards got into a deadly shootout with drug smugglers on the Syrian border.
The Syrian government and its ally Hezbollah are both accused of participating in drug smuggling.