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Middle East
Jordanians worried by Syrian crackdown
Town of Ramtha, which lies on Syrian-Jordanian border, cut off from family and trading partners in Deraa.
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2011 19:06
The closure of the Ramtha Crossing is separating families and business partners [EPA]

The crackdown launched by Syria on anti-government protesters is taking a toll in the trading town of Ramtha, which lies on the Jordanian-Syrian border.

Syria denied on Monday a report from Jordan that it had closed its border crossings with the kingdom, but witnesses said it had sealed off the Ramtha Crossing, 5km from Deraa.

Syrian security forces have placed the town of Deraa, which lies on the Syrian side of the border, under siege for three days, with further tanks sent in on Wednesday.


 

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting on Wednesday from the Jordanian side of the terminal, said that the thousands of Jordanians and Syrians who cross the border daily have had their movements halted by the closure.

"Definitely Jordanians find what is happening in Syria very worrying, due to the strong ties between the two countries," she said.

At least two Jordanian citizens living in Deraa have been confirmed to have been killed in the crackdown this week, she said.

Merchants in Ramtha have been cautiously monitoring developments across the border in Deraa, where they do business.

Many of them have relatives on the Syrian side and their business - trading in a variety of goods, including cigarettes and alcohol - has been largely paralysed because of the crackdown.

"Our economy depends on trade with Deraa and it is totally frozen now. Ramtha will not be holding more than two weeks," Abdelsalam Thyabat, head of the Ramtha chamber of commerce, said.


 

"Jordanian exports of vegetables and fruits to Syria and Lebanon have also stopped, which is frustrating for the farmers."

Some of the drivers are married to Syrian women.

"I have lost contacts with my wife's family in Deraa," Hatem, 45, said. "I learned on Tuesday that my sister-in-law has been killed, while her brother has been injured. He will survive, I was told."

Members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a small Islamist party, rallied at the Syrian embassy in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on Wednesday, condemning Assad's crackdown as a crime.

A day earlier, the powerful Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition party, also protested against the violence.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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