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Jordan ‘keeping close eye on south Syria’

By Mohammad Ghazal - May 28,2018 - Last updated at May 28,2018

AMMAN — Jordan is closely following up on developments in the south of Syria, a government official said on Monday.

“We are monitoring the developments in the southern parts of Syria and we are prepared to protect our interests and national security,” the source, who preferred anonymity, told The Jordan Times.

He said that Jordan started direct contact with the US and Russia regarding the developments in the area, which is designated as a de-escalation zone under a deal reached between Amman and the two major powers.

“Jordan wants the de-escalation zone created in south of Syria to remain intact and we believe that these zones have led to positive results and helped reach a ceasefire in Syria,” the official added.

Jordan’s remarks on Monday came a few days after the US warned Damascus it would take “firm” action if the government there violates a ceasefire deal, after Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on a southern province ahead of an expected offensive.

On Friday, the US State Department issued a statement saying it was “concerned” by the reports and that the area in question was within the boundaries of a de-escalation zone it had negotiated with Russia and Jordan last year.

“We also caution the Syrian regime against any actions that risk broadening the conflict or jeopardise the ceasefire,” said spokeswoman Heather Nauert, adding that the ceasefire had been re-affirmed by President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Vietnam in November. 

“As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” she added.

The tripartite deal that was reached in Amman last year entailed a ceasefire along a line of contact agreed upon between Syrian government forces and associated troops on one side and rebels on the other.

The three parties agreed that the ceasefire aims to permanently de-escalate the tensions in southern Syria, ending acts of hostility, restoring stability and allowing free access of humanitarian aid for this key area in Syria.  

Government officials said then that the deal was key for uprooting terrorist groups such as the so-called Khalid Ibn Al Walid Army, Al Nusra and any pockets affiliated with Daesh near the borders.

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