Jordan-Syria crossing reopening cancelled after fighting

Jordan cancels planned full reopening of Syria border following Daraa uprising
3 min read
Jordan will not permit goods and passengers to pass through 'as a result of developments in the security situation' in Syria, an Interior Ministry official reportedly said.
The Jaber-Nassib border crossing was due to reopen on Sunday morning [Getty]

The Jaber-Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria will remain closed despite plans by Amman to open it on Sunday morning, following unrest in southern Syria.

Jordan said it will not permit goods and passengers to pass through "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 source added that the crossing will only reopen "if the appropriate conditions are in place".

Jordan's Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya said on Wednesday that the border with Syria would be opened to full capacity on Sunday, following a year of restrictions over Covid-19. 

This changed following escalating violence in and around the city of Daraa, southwestern Syria, a region that sparked the 2011 Syrian revolution against the Assad regime and was in opposition hands until 2019.

Regime forces have encircled the Daraa Al-Balad area of the city for several weeks, shutting off access to the area by road, and stopping water and electricity, following an uprising in the city.

This began following the area's decision not to acknowledge Syria's May presidential vote, which saw Bashar Al-Assad again returned as president in an election widely viewed as a "sham".

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There has also been an armed escalation between the regime and opposition groups in the city, even though a Russian and Jordanian-mediated deal was concluded between the parties in 2018, Arabi 21 noted.

Former Jordanian Major General Qasem Mohammed Saleh suggested "any tension in the Syrian province of Daraa between the regime and the opposition means there will be an impact on the Jordanian-Syrian border".

He said the situation in Daraa was not permanent and that discussions are ongoing to revive the arrangement between the Syrian regime and Jordan on resuming use of the border, which was contingent on security.

An anonymous Daraa region source told Arabi 21 that Syrian Defence Minister Ali Ayyoub was hosting a gathering with a Russian officer and a local security body concerning events in the area.

The insider added that talks are to be held on establishing a lasting peace deal in Daraa Al-Balad, saying "there are two options, either a strong ceasefire agreement is achieved, or there is escalation and a return to war".

A representative of the Horan Free League media foundation, which covers southern Syria, Amer Al-Horani explained that Assad Allah, chief of the Russian troops in the south of Syria, had spoken with Assad government and local central committee figures.

Al-Horani told Arabi 21 that a ceasefire had been concluded for 24 hours, though this could last for two days following discussions with Russian officials in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

He also said that Iranian-backed forces in the area are trying to scupper any deal by firing weapons and bombs.

Iran-backed militias and local opposition groups continued fighting in Daraa and nearby areas overnight on Monday, Syrian opposition outlet Zaman Al-Wasl reported.

It said Iran-backed fighters and regime troops bombed Daraa Al-Balad and surrounding areas, using tanks and multiple rocket launcher systems.

For their part, dissidents in Daraa Al-Balad on Tuesday hit out at the regime, "cross-border sectarian militias", in an apparent reference to Iran-backed fighters, and "the Russian occupier".

They asked for those from around the wider region around Daraa "to stand in the face of the oppressors".

Daraa clans also urged members of the regime forces to defect, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said on Tuesday.

Reuters contributed to this story