Jordanian border soldiers stand as the Jordanian national flag waving above them and the rainbow can be seen in the background, prior to the arrival of the Syrian refugees who will be crossing into Ruweishid, Jordan, on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP/Mohammad Hannon)
Ruwaishid, Asharq Al-Awsat—Arms smuggling along the Syrian–Jordanian border has more than tripled since last year, according to a Jordanian Border Guard commander, Brig. Gen. Hussein Zayoud.
Earlier this week, Jordan’s Armed Forces hosted a guided tour of border security facilities for Arab and international media to highlight Jordanian efforts to provide much-needed relief to Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in the country.
Speaking during a press conference on the sidelines of the media tour, Brig. Gen. Zayoud said: “The Jordanian Border Guard’s prime objective is to protect Jordan from all smuggling attempts, whether it is that of people, arms or drugs.”
He affirmed that arms smuggling along the Syrian–Jordanian border had increased by over 300 percent since last year, adding that illegal border crossings had increased by 250 percent over the same period.
General Zayoud confirmed that the Jordanian Border Guard had seized more than 900 firearms over the past year.
He added: “In most cases, arms are smuggled from Syria to Jordan, but there have been cases where people from different nationalities attempted to smuggle arms from Jordan to Syria.
“Jordan will firmly face all attempts of arms smuggling to and through its territories to other neighboring countries from Syria.”
He added that the Jordanian Border Guard has also clamped down on smuggling from Syria to Jordan, seizing more than 6 million narcotic pills, 24 cars and 90,000 head of livestock.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, General Zayoud confirmed that there has been humanitarian cooperation between the Jordanian military and the Free Syrian Army over Syrian refugees. He also denied the existence of any form of contact or cooperation with the Assad regime’s military.
He declared that Jordan’s borders remain open to Syrian refugees.
According to Syrian activists, more than 2 million Syrian nationals have fled the country since the start of the civil war, with some estimates reporting that more than 500,000 Syrian refugees have found their way into Jordan.
According to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) figures, 563,706 Syrian nationals have officially registered for refugee status in Jordan as of December 5, 2013.