Jordanian troops killed 27 drug smugglers early Thursday as they tried to enter Jordan from neighboring Syria, Jordan’s military said.
The killings occurred when a group of alleged smugglers, supported by an armed group, clashed with Jordanian troops along the border, according to Jordan’s military. Others carrying drugs fled back into Syria during the fighting, it said.
“A preliminary search was conducted in the area and large quantities of narcotics were found,” the Jordanian military said.
The attempt to smuggle drugs from Syria to Jordan is one of a growing number of such attempts over the past year, the military said, leading the military to strengthen its rules of engagement with smugglers.
Jordan’s military said that it was applying “the newly established rules of engagement and will strike with an iron fist and deal with force and firmness with any infiltration or smuggling attempts to protect the borders.”
Jordanian officials have accused Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and militias that control large areas in southern Syria of being behind the rise in smuggling. Hezbollah, supported by Iran, has denied the accusations.
The Jordanian military also said it found large quantities of an amphetamine known as Captagon concealed in Syrian trucks crossing Jordan’s main border into the Gulf region.
The Gulf region is a lucrative market for Captagon. United Nations drug experts say Syria, wrecked by a decade-long civil war, has become the region's primary production site for drugs also bound for Jordan, Iraq and Europe.
The Center for Operational Analysis and Research said in a report funded by the European Union that the market value of Captagon exported from Syria in 2020 was nearly $4.5 billion.
Last September, Jordan fully reopened its main border seperating it from Syria, a move that raised concerns of increased drug smuggling that appear to have been realized.
Information from Reuters and AFP was used in this report