AMMAN — Jordanian authorities seized on Tuesday a large cache of weapons destined for Syria in the latest of a reported rising number of attempts to smuggle arms across the Jordanian-Syrian border.
According to a statement by the Jordan Armed Forces, Jordanian border guard patrols captured a group of Syrian nationals early Tuesday near the Jordanian-Syrian border attempting to smuggle a large weapons cache into southwest Syria.
Border guard officials declined to elaborate on the number or type of weapons seized on Tuesday or where along the border the incident took place.
According to a Jordanian security official speaking to The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity, authorities detained five Syrian nationals attempting to smuggle dozens of anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, in addition to hundreds of automatic assault rifles believed to be destined for rebel forces.
Rebel officials and security sources say the Syrian nationals were likely attempting to smuggle the weapons into the southwest Syrian town of Tal Shihab — a major rebel stronghold and a key transit point for smuggling routes into Syria.
Tuesday’s incident marked the second large-scale seizure of smuggled weapons along the Jordanian-Syrian border in less than a week and the continuation of a rising series of attempts to transfer arms to rebel forces across Syria’s southern borders.
Jordanian border guards last Thursday seized a large cache of heavy arms destined for Syria and, according to Jordanian military officials, have prevented 20 attempts to smuggle arms into Syria over the past month alone.
Amid pledges by Western powers and the so-called Friends of Syria group to increase military support to rebel forces, Jordan has repeatedly denied media reports alleging Amman is allowing large-scale arms supplies across the country’s 370-kilometre shared border with Syria.
Jordanian officials say they continue to impose a security crackdown along the border region to prevent an inflow of arms and foreign fighters into either country.