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Jordan refutes report of opening airspace to Israeli armed drones to spy on Syria

Published time: April 22, 2013 16:01
Edited time: April 22, 2013 21:03
AFP Photo / Jonathan Nackstrand

AFP Photo / Jonathan Nackstrand

A Jordanian military official has refuted the reports that Jordan has opened two air corridors for Israeli drones to monitor the Syrian conflict. The official told RT Arabic that an earlier report by Le Figaro was “inaccurate and groundless.”

Citing a Western military source, the French daily said the decision to open Jordanian airspace to the Israelis had been reached in March following a visit by President Barack Obama to the country.

"The Syrians have Russian air defense assets, but Israeli aircraft are difficult to detect and therefore virtually immune to anti-aircraft measures,"
said the unnamed source to Le Figaro. The military craft will fly at night to minimize the risk of detection and are capable of striking a target “anywhere in Syria.”

The report follows an alleged Israeli strike at targets inside the Syrian border in acts branded as a violation of the UN charter. The new aerial corridors through Jordan will allow Israeli aircraft to avoid flying over southern Lebanon and inciting a possible aggressive response from Hezbollah.

Israel has repeatedly voiced its concern over stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria and the possibility they may fall into the wrong hands. In late January the Israeli government issued a number of warnings to Syria before reports of an air strike on what Damascus claimed was a “scientific research center" emerged. Israel did not take direct responsibility for the strike, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak implied Israeli involvement.

“I keep telling you frankly that ... when we say something we mean it. We say that we don’t think [Hezbollah should be allowed] to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon,” he told journalists in Germany a week after the attacks.

The US got behind Israel, stating that Washington had been informed prior to the strike on what was also said to be a weapons convoy heading to Lebanon.

An image grab taken from the state-run Syrian TV on February 2, 2013, shows a room damaged after what Syria said was an Israeli air raid which targeted the Jamraya scientific research base on the outskirts of Damascus (AFP Photo / Syria TV)

The attack on a Syrian target drew widespread condemnation internationally, with Lebanon decrying the strike as “barbaric aggression,” while Russia said it was deeply concerned by the move that was in breach of the UN charter.

Israel has taken steps to beef up its military defenses along its borders with Syria and Lebanon. Iron Dome missile defense components were deployed along Israel’s northern borders along with a US-made Patriot missile unit in February, security sources told Reuters. The anonymous military spokesperson maintained that the deployment was purely routine.

Jordan has been dramatically affected by the escalating violence in neighboring Syria. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have flooded into Jordan since the conflict began over two years ago, leading to the creation of vast camps to house them. On Sunday the Jordanian authorities detained eight Syrians in a camp along the border for inciting riots, fueling fears the conflict could spark violence in Jordan.

Jordanian King Abdullah reportedly met with embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in secret in March with a view to curb the influx of Syrian into Jordan. Assad, for his part, issued a warning to the Jordanian government last week, stating that thousands of fighters had crossed into Jordan to fight government forces.

"The fire will not stop at our border and everybody knows that Jordan is exposed as Syria is," Assad said in an interview broadcast on Al-Ikhbariya television.

The Syrian conflict has been raging for over two years and has shown no signs of abating. Opposition support group, the so-called Friends of Syria, met over the weekend to discuss monetary aid to rebel forces attempting to oust President Assad. The group granted $123 million in ‘non-lethal’ aid to the Syrian opposition.

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