Jordanian warplanes destroy vehicles trying to cross from Syria


Handout photo of a damaged pickup truck after it was hit by a Jordanian warplane following failure to heed warnings not to cross into Jordan from Syria April 16. (Handout/Reuters)
April 16

Jordanian warplanes destroyed several vehicles trying to cross the border from Syria, a government spokesman said Wednesday. A Jordanian security source said the vehicles, which appeared to have machine guns mounted on them, were presumed to belong to Syrian rebels.

A Jordanian army statement said the incident took place around 10:30 a.m. local time when several camouflaged vehicles tried to traverse rugged frontier terrain.

“After repeated warnings that (we) would not allow a violation of the border, a number of air force planes sent warning shots towards the vehicles, but they did not heed these warnings and continued,” the statement said. “This forced the army to apply known engagement rules and to destroy the vehicles.”

Photos taken from the air that appeared on several Jordanian news Web sites showed at least one civilian Chevrolet pickup damaged and another similar vehicle on fire in an unspecified desolate desert area.

No bodies appeared in the photos that a security source said had been released to the outlets by the military.

There was no identification on the vehicles. Such pickups are often used by smugglers who operate in the border area.

Amman has tightened controls along the 230-mile border to try to prevent Jordanian Islamist militants who have joined the Syrian rebels from crossing back into Jordan. They are seen as a domestic security threat.

Unlike Syria’s other main neighbors Turkey, which has given rebels a haven, and Lebanon, whose border has been breached with impunity by combatants, U.S.-allied Jordan has prevented any free flow of arms or fighters over its frontier.

Rebels dominate swaths of territory along Syria’s southern border but have been engaged in sometimes heavy fighting with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Officials in Damascus said the vehicles did not belong to the Syrian government. “What was targeted by the Jordanian air force does not belong to the Syrian army,” a military source told the official Syrian Arab News Agency.

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