A Jordanian army officer has been killed and three others were injured today during a shootout with drug smugglers as they tried to enter the country from the Syrian border.
According to a statement released by the Jordanian army, the smugglers opened fire at an army outpost along the border at dawn before fleeing back to Syria, leaving behind a large cache of drugs.
"The army will respond with all strength and resolve (against) any infiltration attempt to protect our borders and prevent anyone who dares to violate our national security," the statement said.
Jordan's Petra News Agency named the deceased as Captain Mohammad Khudayrat and added that the three other soldiers were being treated at a nearby military hospital.
Last year the Jordan Armed Forces announced that it had intercepted around 361 drug smuggling attempts and seized large quantities of narcotics. In one such incident, the army said it shot down a drone laden with drugs, flying across the border.
The border clash follows a report this week by Arab News on the "dramatic" increase in drug smuggling attempts into the kingdom from Syria, citing an anonymous military source who stated that "Illicit drug cultivation and manufacture has become a growing industry in Syria"
According to the Syrian news website Enab Baladi, drug smuggling operations are most active in Syria's southern regions of Daraa and Al-Suwayda, with most routes controlled by armed Bedouin tribes that have affiliations inside Jordan.
Experts also believe the presence of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement concentrated in southern Syria has also contributed to the rise in drug trafficking. Last year, Hezbollah denied allegations that it was involved in the production of amphetamine after 14 tonnes of the drugs were discovered in Italy the year before, originating from the Syrian port of Latakia.