AMMAN — Authorities confirmed on Sunday the arrest of several Syrian army defectors on suspicion of spying for the Syrian regime.

According to the Public Security Department (PSD), police forces in Mafraq arrested last week 10 alleged army defectors who entered the Kingdom earlier this month suspecting that they concealed their true identity. 

“There were doubts surrounding their true intentions, so we detained the 10 Syrians for an extended background check,” PSD Spokesperson Lt. Col. Mohammed Khatib told The Jordan Times. 

Police transferred the 10 Syrian nationals, who were residing in a specialised camp for army defectors on the outskirts of the northern city prior to their arrest, to the Mafraq District detention centre where they are currently being questioned, Khatib added.  

According to a second security source who requested anonymity, the arrest comes amidst rising concern among security forces of attempts by Syrian “agents” to infiltrate the Syrian refugee community and report on the movements of activists and defectors.  

Last week’s arrest was not an isolated incident, according to the source, who claimed that “dozens” of alleged army defectors have been deported back to their homeland since March 2011 for suspected “espionage”. 

Earlier this month, authorities transferred 400 known Syrian army defectors and senior officers residing in the Kingdom to a guarded military barracks outside Mafraq due to safety concerns. 

Although security services withhold the passports of those who cross into Jordan illegally in order to run extensive background checks, sources say it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify former Syrian servicemen with the rising number of Syrian refugees entering the Kingdom, which has surpassed 100,000.