AMMAN: A Jordanian army officer was killed and three army personnel were injured on Sunday as they tried to stop drug smugglers entering the country from Syria.
Jordan’s official news agency Petra reported that Capt. Mohammed Yasin Khdeirat died and three of his colleagues were wounded following an exchange of fire near the country’s northeastern borders with Syria.
The report said that the exchange occurred at 4 a.m. when the drug dealers opened fire and the “Jordanian soldiers returned fire to the source of the shooting.”
The smugglers fled back to Syria, leaving behind a large cache of drugs, a Jordanian army statement said.
“The army will respond with all strength and resolve (against) any infiltration attempt to protect our borders and prevent anyone who dares to violate our national security.”
Large drug shipments were captured after the smugglers abandoned their location.
Syria bore responsibility for the smuggling of drugs to Jordan, military analyst and retired Jordanian Air Force major general Mamoun Abu Nuwar told Arab News. He said that the cause of the problem was the Syrian crisis.
“The borders with Syria are a source of threat to Jordan, both from the point of view of terrorism as well as that of the drug trade. Jordan has been working on the return of legitimacy to Syria and yet we still don’t see a serious effort by Syria to put an end to this threat across the borders.”
The amount of money behind the drug business was said to be $4 billion, he said, and drug dealers used Jordan as a transit site.
“The final destination of these drugs is meant to go to the Gulf states,” he added.
Jordanian officials have voiced concerns at a spike in drug smuggling from Syria over the past year, including large quantities found hidden in Syrian trucks passing through its main border crossing to the Gulf region.
Jordan recently shot down a drone flying a large number of drugs across the border.
Officials said that Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and militias, who hold sway in southern Syria, were behind the smuggling of a popular and banned drug — a stimulant known as Captagon — which has a thriving market in the Gulf. Hezbollah denies the accusations.
UN drug experts say that Syria, shattered by a decade-long civil war, has become the region’s main production site for drugs destined for Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf, and Europe.
Syrian authorities have in recent months announced several major interceptions of drugs destined for Gulf markets, saying they were doing their utmost to crack down on widespread production in the country.