Jordanian warplanes hit and destroyed several vehicles trying to cross the border from Syria, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, underlining Amman’s concern about incursions from areas controlled by Syrian rebels.
“Royal air force jets fighters today at 10:30 am destroyed a number of vehicles that attempted to cross into Jordan from Syria,” the Jordanian army said in a statement.
“The camouflaged vehicles tried to enter from an area with rugged terrain.
“The fighter jets fired warning shots, but they were ignored, promoting them to destroy the vehicles. The army will not tolerate such actions,” said the statement.
A military official told AFP that “they were three-wheeled vehicles which tried to enter the kingdom” near Ruwaished in northern Jordan.
A Jordanian security source said the targets were Syrian rebels in civilian cars mounted with machine guns.
Syrian state media cited a military source as saying that the vehicles did not belong to the Syrian army.
“No military or armored vehicles belonging to the Syrian army moved towards the Jordanian border, and so what was targeted by the Jordanian air force does not belong to the Syrian army,” state television said in a breaking news alert.
It was unclear whether rebels who have dominated swathes of territory along Syria’s southern border with Jordan might have been seeking refuge inside Jordan from fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Jordanian spokesman Mohammed al-Momani, also a cabinet minister, told Reuters that the kingdom was increasingly worried about infiltration from Syria. “We are worried about cases of infiltration … and reports that talk about armed groups that are close to the border and the absence of security there.”
Amman has tightened already firm controls along the 370-kilometer border to try to prevent Jordanian Islamist militants who have joined the rebels from crossing back into Jordan. They are seen as a domestic security threat.
Jordan’s border guards in recent weeks clashed with and arrested several people as they attempted to cross into the kingdom from Syria, where a devastating conflict has been raging for more than three years.
The kingdom, home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, says arms smuggling across the border with Syria has risen by 300 percent in the past year.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)