Jordan's airstrikes on southern Syria 'drug smugglers' kill nine, including civilians

Jordan's airstrikes on southern Syria 'drug smugglers' kill nine, including civilians
Several civilians were reported killed after Jordan's military carried out airstrikes in southern Syria, amid a crackdown by Amman on drug smugglers.
2 min read
18 January, 2024
Jordan has stepped up a campaign targeting drug smugglers in Syria, with deadly border clashes frequently taking place [Getty]

Jordan launched fresh airstrikes in southern Syria in the early hours of Thursday morning, as it tries to tackle drug smuggling on its northern border.

Jordanian fighter jets conducted at least two raids on the towns of Orman and Malah in the Syrian governorate of Suweida that borders Jordan.

The strike on Orman hit two homes, killing several people, reported The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Heavy gunfire could also be heard in the area, a correspondent for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said, but the source of the firing was not clear.

The correspondent had initially confirmed that five people were killed in the strike on Orman, including Omar Talab, his mother, and his aunt, as well as Nazih al-Halabi and Turki al-Halabi.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said at least nine people were killed in the strikes on Orman, including two children, and that the death toll was expected to rise.

The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdurrahman, said the people killed had nothing to do with smuggling, suggesting that the Jordanian air force might have received incorrect intelligence from local residents.

In Malah, the air raid destroyed a garage reportedly belonging to someone from the Ghazali family and damaged some neighbouring residencies.

No casualties were initially reported in that strike.

The Jordanian army has stepped up a campaign against drug smugglers and has engaged frequently in deadly clashes with armed men from Syria at the border area.

Amman resorted to direct military action inside Syria for the first time last year after repeated warnings to Damascus to curb drug smuggling across the border.

SOHR said Thursday’s strikes were the third since the start of this year.

Inside MENA
Live Story

War-torn Syria has become the region's main centre in the multi-billion-dollar trade of the amphetamine drug captagon, with Jordan a key transit route to the Gulf states for the product.

Jordan, among other countries, accuses Iranian-backed militias of being behind the surge in drugs and arms smuggling and a major source of instability in the region.

Iran and its Lebanon ally Hezbollah say the allegations are false, while the Syrian regime denies having a role in the trade.