Jordan downs two drones carrying drugs from Syria -army
The Jordanian army on Tuesday said it downed two drones carrying drugs from Syria in the latest incident raising concerns over increased smuggling across the border.
The army statement said the drones had crossed into its territory and their hauls of crystal methamphetamine were seized. It warned it would act forcefully to prevent any attempt to destabilise the country’s security.
Jordanian officials say the increasing use of drones carrying drugs, weapons and explosives is adding a new dimension to a cross-border billion-dollar drug war the U.S. ally has blamed on Iranian-backed militias that hold sway in southern Syria.
Syria is accused by Arab governments and the West of producing the highly addictive and lucrative amphetamine captagon and other drugs, and organising its smuggling into the Gulf, with Jordan a main transit route.
President Bashar al-Assad’s government denies allegations of Syria’s involvement in drug-making and smuggling, as well as any complicity by Iranian-backed militias protected by units within the Syrian army and security forces.
Iran says the allegations are part of a Western plot against the country.
Jordanian officials say talks with senior Syrian officials to curb Iranian-run smuggling networks have reached a dead end due to the inability of Damascus to impose order over its southern region where a state of lawlessness prevails.
Jordan’s King Abdullah said last week that Iran and elements within the Syrian government were benefiting from the drug trade, adding he was not sure if Assad was fully in charge of the country in view of the “major problem” of drugs and weapons being smuggled.
“We are fighting every single day on our border to stop massive amounts of drugs coming into our country,” Abdullah said.
“And this is a major issue that all the parties, including some people inside the (Syrian) regime, and the Iranians and their proxies, are all taking advantage of,” the monarch was quoted as saying at the Middle East Global Summit conference in New York.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also said the amount of drugs being smuggled from Syria had increased after the kingdom launched talks with Damascus on curbing it after the sanctions-hit country returned to the Arab fold last May.
During a visit last month by General Mark Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Jordan raised getting more support for its efforts to curb drug trafficking, Jordanian officials say.
Milley confirmed that Washington was working closely with its ally to provide equipment, training and advice to deal with the growing drug trafficking threat.
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