A suspected drug smuggler and his family have been killed in an air raid in southern Syria, an attack attributed to Jordan, according to a war monitor.
Amman did not immediately comment on Monday’s attack, which came days after Jordan warned it would use force within Syria to eliminate drug trafficking to its territories and onwards to Arab Gulf nations.
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“[Drug dealer] Marai al-Ramthan, his wife and six children were killed in a Jordanian air force strike” in the east of Sweida province, near the Syria-Jordan border, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
“Al-Ramthan is considered to be the most prominent drug trafficker in the region, and the number one smuggler of drugs, including captagon, into Jordan” from that area, said the Observatory, which relies on a wide network of sources in Syria.
Another attack in the southern province of Deraa was reported by the SOHR, which said it hit a building that housed a drug factory.
Opposition activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh, who covers developments in southern Syria, concurred that one pre-dawn attack killed al-Ramthan and his family and the other hit a facility used by Iran-backed groups to produce and store drugs for smuggling to Jordan.
On May 1, several Arab foreign ministers met in Amman, where Damascus agreed to cooperate with Jordan and Iraq to identify sources of drug production and smuggling and “take necessary steps to end smuggling operations”, according to a statement from Jordan’s foreign ministry.
On Sunday, the Arab League welcomed Syria back into the bloc after a suspension that lasted more than a decade, securing President Bashar al-Assad’s return to the Arab fold after years of isolation.
Damascus has denied accusations that it sells captagon, a highly addictive amphetamine, to raise funds, estimated by observers to be in the billions of dollars, for al-Assad and his associates and allies.
While the main destinations are oil-rich Gulf countries, Jordan has become a transit point for the trade.
Last week, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned that his country would not stand idle if drug trafficking continues from Syria.
Safadi told CNN: “If we do not see effective measures to curb that threat, we will do what it takes to counter that threat, including taking military action inside Syria to eliminate this extremely dangerous threat.”
In February 2022, Jordan’s army said it had killed 30 smugglers since the start of the year and foiled attempts to smuggle 16 million captagon pills into the kingdom from Syria – surpassing the entire volume seized throughout 2021.
Jordan has previously launched raids targeting drug smugglers in Syria, as far back as 2014.