Jordanian army says it killed 27 drug smugglers from Syria

Jordanian army says it killed 27 drug smugglers from Syria
File photo showing Jordanian border guards near the frontier with Syria (14 March 2017)Image source,
Image caption,
The Jordanian army says its troops applied new rules of engagement intended to deter smuggling

The Jordanian army says it has killed 27 drug smugglers who attempted to cross into the kingdom from Syria under the cover of heavy snow.

The smugglers were backed by "armed groups", a statement said, adding that some fled back to Syrian territory.

Troops searched the areas where the clashes took place and "found large quantities of narcotics".

The army vowed to strike with "an iron fist" at any smuggling or infiltrations that threatened national security.

It said troops had applied new rules of engagement that were introduced after an army officer was killed in a shootout with smugglers on the border with Syria on 17 January.

The new rules were also said to reflect growing concern about a recent surge in the smuggling of drugs from Syria, mostly amphetamine tablets bearing the Captagon logo.

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The drug Captagon is taken recreationally across the Middle East, and by fighters who say it takes away their fear

Captagon is reportedly one of the most popular drugs among affluent youths in the Middle East, particularly in Gulf Arab states. It has also been consumed by combatants in the civil war in Syria, who say it dims fear on the battlefield.

Most of the Captagon seized in the region is reported to have originated in Syria and Lebanon.

Jordanian officials have blamed Lebanon's militant Hezbollah movement and other Iran-backed militias operating in government-controlled parts of southern Syria for the surge in smuggling into the kingdom. Hezbollah has denied the accusation, calling it fabricated.

The Syrian government has said it is doing its utmost to crack down on Captagon production.

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