Suspected Jordanian Airstrikes Hit Southern Syria, Killing 7
Jordan conducted rare air strikes against targets in southern Syria on Monday — reportedly hitting an Iran-linked drugs factory near the Jordanian border and killing Marie al-Ramthan, an alleged drug smuggler, along with his wife and children while they were at home.
- Jordan conducted rare air strikes against targets in southern Syria on Monday — reportedly hitting an Iran-linked drugs factory near the Jordanian border and killing Marie al-Ramthan, an alleged drug smuggler, along with his wife and children while they were at home.1
- The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the first strike targeted Shuab in Syria's Suweida governorate, killing al-Ramthan, his wife, and his six children. Syrian opposition activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh said that the other strike hit a facility in the neighboring Daraa governorate used by Iran-backed organizations to produce and store drugs before smuggling them to Jordan.2
- Amman did not immediately comment on Monday’s attack. However, Jordan has become increasingly vocal regarding the cross-border drug trade, with the Jordanian army saying last year that it had shot and killed 30 drug smugglers coming from Syria.3
- Al-Ramthan was allegedly among the most wanted by Jordanian authorities for facilitating drug smuggling across the border. Opposition sources also said that al-Ramthan is tied to militias linked to the Syrian government, and to the Iran-backed Lebanese political party and armed group Hezbollah.2
- The strike comes as Arab normalization with the Syrian government continues to pick up steam, with several Arab foreign ministers meeting in Amman last week. Damascus said it would “enhance cooperation” with neighboring states “affected by drug trafficking and smuggling across the Syrian border.”4
- The attack also coincides with the announcement on Sunday that Syria will be reinstated to the Arab League following the country’s suspension for its crackdown on anti-government protests.5
Sources: 1Reuters, 2Associated Press, 3Al Jazeera, 4Al Arabiya English, and 5Firstpost.
- Narrative A, as provided by Jerusalem Post. Considering that neither Syria nor Jordan has fully commented on this strike, one may assume that the Syrian government tacitly allowed Jordan to attack its territory. At the same time, Jordan has no interest in destabilizing southern Syria any further, as that could bring even more chaos across the border. Like many aspects of the region, the real details of Syria's normalization will play out in the backrooms, away from the press.
- Narrative B, as provided by Arab News. Jordan is playing with fire as it tries to normalize relations with the Assad regime while also containing drug smuggling and Syrian refugees. Assad and his regime are disingenuous, and it's well-known that they will do everything to avoid fulfilling their promises. The US should not support normalization, and Jordan should be more thoughtful toward the regional situation.