Jordan army says it 'shot down' drone carrying drugs from Syria
The Jordanian army said on Tuesday it had downed a drone carrying drugs from Syria into its northern frontier region, and it said Jordan would not allow the border area to become a front line in an Iran-linked drug war.
The kingdom has blamed pro-Iranian militias, who it says are protected by units within the Syrian army, for smuggling drugs across its borders towards lucrative Gulf markets.
The Syrian regime claims it is doing its best to curb smuggling and continues to bust smuggler rings in the south. It denies complicity by Iranian-backed militias linked to its army and security forces.
Amman has issued several warning to Syria to curb drug smuggling into its borders, after a number of incidents have taken place.
Additionally, the sharp rise in smuggling attempts has forced Jordan since last year to change army rules of engagement along the border, giving its military the authority to use overwhelming force. Earlier last month, notorious Syrian dealer Marei al-Ramthan was killed in a suspected Jordanian airstrike near the Syrian-Jordanian border in the province of Suweida.
"We are continuing to deal with resolve and force with any threat to our borders and any attempt to destabilise the security of the nation," the army said in a statement.
The plane was intercepted and downed on its side of the border, it said.
War-torn Syria has become the region's main site for a multi-billion-dollar drug trade, with Jordan a main transit route to the oil-rich Gulf states for Syrian-made amphetamine known as captagon, Western anti-narcotics officials and Washington say.
Captagon is a highly addictive amphetamine-type psychoactive stimulant.
80 percent of the world's captagon is produced in war-torn Syria. The country has become a hub for the illegal stimulant in the aftermath of the devastating 12-year-long conflict as the Assad regime has become reliant on the drug's production for economic revenue.
Jordanian officials say they have raised their concerns with the Syrian regime but have not seen any real attempt to clamp-down on the illicit trade.