Jordan closes Syria border after rebel attacks in Deraa

This comes days after rebels hit Syrian government outposts in most significant flare-up of violence since the government recaptured the area three years ago

Jordanian security officials check vehicles at Jordan's Jaber border crossing with Syria. Reuters
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Jordan is closing the Jaber crossing with Syria after a wave of rebel attacks on the Syrian side of the border.

The crossing will close to goods and passengers “as a result of developments in the security situation on the Syrian side”, state news agency Petra said on Saturday, citing an Interior Ministry official.

The official said the crossing to Syria's southern Deraa province would be reopened “if the appropriate conditions are in place".

The border closure comes days after Jordanian and Syrian officials discussed ways to stop banditry and extortion hampering trade in the south of Syria.

Last week, Syrian rebels attacked government checkpoints in Deraa with mortars in the biggest flare-up of violence since President Bashar Al Assad's forces retook the restive region three years ago.

Pro-government forces then shelled the area of Deraa Al Balad in the city of Deraa with heavy weapons and launched a ground offensive, in a bid to crush the simmering insurrection in the city where the country’s uprising started over 10 years ago, The Guardian reported.

In response, rebels reportedly hit government positions, killing at least eight soldiers.

The attacks on army outposts near the Damascus-Deraa highway disrupted passenger and commercial traffic through Syria's Nassib border crossing with Jordan, the main gateway for goods from Lebanon and Syria to the Gulf.

The attacks came after the army launched a dawn operation against the rebel-held old quarter in the city of Deraa, where peaceful protests against decades of autocratic Assad family rule began in 2011 and were met by deadly force before spreading across the country.

Rather than face an all-out assault in 2018, the town “reconciled” with the regime.

Russia-brokered deals at the time forced rebels to hand over heavy weapons and return state institutions in the area but kept the army from entering their neighbourhoods.

Relations between locals and government officials remained severely strained and there have been sporadic protests and simmering anger.

Thousands of former rebels chose to stay with their families rather than head to remaining rebel-held areas in northern Syria, where tens of thousands of others displaced from recaptured areas had gathered.

Many of the former rebels joined a Russia-backed, state-sanctioned militia.

The semi-autonomous force has maintained security while preventing government intelligence and soldiers from entering many areas or arresting wanted anti-government figures.

Updated: August 01, 2021, 5:31 AM