11 Aug 2012

Jordanian, Syrian armies clash at border

4:22 pm on 11 August 2012

Clashes have erupted between Jordanian and Syrian forces along the countries' shared border over the alleged entry of Syrian regime defectors into Jordan.

According to a Jordanian security source, gunfire broke out between Jordanian and Syrian border patrols late on Friday.

The source says Syrian forces fired on a group of some 500 refugees, which allegedly included Syrian army defectors, attempting to cross into Jordan.

Jordanian border patrols returned fire, triggering an intense 30-minute firefight.

Activists claim the crossing, an operation staged by the Free Syrian Army, included "dozens" of high-ranking Syrian military defectors, including General Ibrahim Jabawi.

The refugee issue has become a growing point of contention between Amman and Damascus, which objects to Jordan's ongoing policy of granting refuge to all Syrians crossing into the country - including rebels and military defectors.

Syrian activists claim that Damascus has been opening fire on civilians attempting to cross into Jordan in an effort to prevent the flight of relatives of military servicemen.

They say keeping the family members in Syria remains the regime's only leverage to prevent mass military defections.