Jordan denies it threatens Syria's borders, calls for more anti-drug smuggling action
The spokesperson of Jordan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Sufian al-Qudah denied that Jordan was a threat to Syria's border security and said that it would continue to confront drug smuggling on its border with Syria.
"Drug and weapons smuggling from Syria to Jordan, which claimed and injured a number of our brave officers, represent a direct threat to Jordan's security, and it will continue to be confronted with all determination until it is completely defeated," al-Qudah said.
Syria is a major source of narcotics smuggling in the Middle East, with drug exports estimated to be worth $5 billion USD annually. The Syrian regime, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias are all alleged to be behind the production and smuggling of narcotics.
Jordan is a key transit point for drugs destined for the Arab Gulf, the largest market for drugs in the Middle East.
The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affair's statement came on the heels of a complaint by Syria condemning Jordanian airstrikes in its southern provinces.
Syria said hours earlier that there was "no justification" for the airstrikes Jordan conducted on its territory and that it was against the agreed upon "sincere cooperation" between the two countries to combat drug smuggling.
It also alleged that Jordan had not been properly engaging in the cooperation mechanism set up between the two countries to stop drug smuggling.
Jordan has stepped up its campaign against drug traffickers in southern Syria and along its shared border with Syria, carrying out airstrikes against what it said were targets involved in the drug trade.
Several Jordanian border officers were injured and at least one was killed while fighting drug smugglers along the two countries' shared border.
A Jordanian strike on 18 January in the southern Syrian province of Suweida killed 10 civilians, among them women and children, sparking outrage and protests in Suweida city. Jordanian officials have since denied that civilians were targeted.
Jordanian officials had previously warned Syria that if it did not contain the rising incidences of cross-border drug-smuggling, it would take matters into its own hands.
Al-Qudah said that Jordan had provided the Syrian government with the names of smugglers, as well as the locations of drug manufacturing and smuggling routes "under the control of the Syrian government, but no real action was taken to neutralise the danger."
The spokesperson said that it would continue collaboration with the Syrian regime, and that he "expects practical, effective and rapid measures" against drug smugglers by Syrian officials.