An airstrike on southern Syria, likely carried out by Jordan’s air force, kills 9

An airstrike on southern Syria, likely carried out by Jordan's air force, kills 9 © Provided by The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press

BEIRUT (AP) — An airstrike on southern Syria early Thursday killed at least nine people and was probably carried out by Jordan’s air force, Syrian opposition activists said, the latest in a series of strikes in an area where cross-border drug smugglers have been active.

There was no immediate confirmation from Jordan on the strike that hit the province of Sweida,

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said nine people, including two children and at least three women, were killed in the strike on the village of Orman.

The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdurrahman, said the people killed had nothing to do with smuggling, suggesting that the Jordanian air force might have received incorrect intelligence from local residents.

Smugglers have used Jordan as a corridor over the past years to smuggle highly addictive Captagon amphetamines out of Syria, mainly to oil-rich Arab Gulf states. The Jordanian authorities have managed to stop several smuggling attempts, including some in which smugglers used drones to fly the drugs over the border.

Rayan Maarouf, Editor-in-Chief of local activist collective Suwayda24, told The Associated Press that 10 people were killed in the strike on Orman. There was also a strike on the nearby village of Malah, he said, but no casualties were inflicted. Maarouf said that search operations are still ongoing and the death toll might still rise.

“Innocent people are always losing their lives in such strikes,” he said, adding that sometimes the strikes hit the homes of people living near smugglers or close to warehouses where drugs are stored.

The Captagon industry has been a huge concern for Jordan, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries, as hundreds of millions of pills have been smuggled over the years. The drug is used recreationally and by people with physically demanding jobs to keep them alert.

In late August, an airstrike hit an alleged drug factory in southern Syria near the Jordanian border, an attack believed to have been carried out by Jordan’s air force. In May, another airstrike on a village in Sweida killed a well-known Syrian drug kingpin and his family. Activists believe that strike was conducted by the Jordanians. There was also a strike in last month.

Jordan has so far not claimed responsibility for any of the strikes.

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report from Cairo.

Source: Bassem Mroue, The Associated Press