Jordan Accuses Syria Of Exporting Crisis

Border clashes between Syrian and Jordanian troops are on the rise as the crisis in Syria continues to spiral out of control. Tamer Samadi reports that the Jordanian government denies that fire was exchanged across the border, but other sources report that shots were fired.

al-monitor Jordan's King Abdullah (seated, 4th R) meets with his troops during his visit at a northern borders guards unit at Jordan-Syria border August 1, 2012. Photo by REUTERS.

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syrian refugees in jordan, syrian crisis, syrian-jordanian relations, syrian, syria-jordan border, security, refugees, jordanian government, jordan, free syrian army, fayez tarawneh

Aug 2, 2012

A Jordanian senior military official told Al-Hayat that “the Syrian regime is trying to export its crisis to Jordan by repeatedly violating the Jordanian border and targeting Syrians entering no-man’s-land.”

The official added that Syrian army units stationed along the border are characterized by “disorderly and chaotic moves, and they are making decisions on the ground without examined planning." He explained that “most of the Syrian army’s stations along the border with Jordan have been targeted and destroyed by the Free Syrian Army."

The Jordanian official, who preferred to remain anonymous, revealed that Jordanian units on the border with Syria are equipped with “various types of ammunition along with heavy and medium-sized weapons," adding that the Jordanian army “has strict instructions to respond with an armed response to any violation of the border."

The recent border clashes between the Jordanian and Syrian armies have revealed that the Jordanian army and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are cooperating and communicating with one another regarding refugees fleeing to Jordan and developments in border areas.

The killing of a 4-year-old [sic]* Syrian boy from Homs, Bilal el-Lababidi, marked a new beginning in communications between the Jordanian army and Syrian opposition militants. The child was killed in the early hours of Friday [July 27], while crossing the Jordanian-Syrian border with his mother. During this incident, a Jordanian sergeant was also injured in gunfire from the Syrian army.

Official sources in Jordan, along with FSA and Syrian opposition activists, said that “the latest clashes were not the first of their kind since the protests began in Syria, however they are the most violent, after Jordanian [army units] responded by firing toward the source of fire.”

The sources added that "the Jordanian army units stationed at the border responded by firing at the source of fire, which was directed at refugees who had crossed the Jordanian border. The Jordanian army penetrated the Syrian side of the border to respond to the source of fire, after a Jordanian soldier was injured. The sources said that the Jordanian army "targeted two security stations neighboring the town of Tel Shehab, which is under the FSA’s control.” The sources clarified that Jordan "refused to target Syrian regime soldiers. However, it insisted that gunfire directed to Jordan should stop and delivered a message to the Syrian regime that the kingdom will not remain silent if its border is violated or more soldiers and sergeants are injured.

The sources said that groups from the FSA are transporting refugees and securing the border road for them, before turning them over to the Jordanian army at a specific point along the border.

While the army is transferring refugees by bus to housing centers, the Jordanian authorities are avoiding talk concerning the nature of their contacts with the Syrian opposition and their position regarding the Assad regime.

The Jordanian government denied yesterday [July 29] that clashes had taken place between the Jordanian and Syrian armies. However, multiple military and security sources along the border confirmed that these clashes had in fact occurred, and Al-Hayat witnessed a part of them on the ground.

According to the Jordanian prime minister, Fayez Tarawneh, Jordan has finally declared a state of alert at its border with Syria "to protect its territory," and has received hundreds of defecting soldiers and officers from the Syrian army. The defectors are residing in a Jordanian army camp at the border city of Mafraq.

*Although initial reports said that the child was 4 years old, AP and other sources are now reporting that he was 6.

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