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­Syrian and Jordanian troops clash at border – report

Published time: August 10, 2012 21:31
Edited time: August 11, 2012 15:46
 Syrian refugees gather at the Zaatari Camp, Jordan’s first official camp for Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country, in Mafraq, near the Syrian border  (AFP Photo / Khalil Mazraawi)

Syrian refugees gather at the Zaatari Camp, Jordan’s first official camp for Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country, in Mafraq, near the Syrian border (AFP Photo / Khalil Mazraawi)

Fighting involving armored vehicles broke out Friday night between Jordanian and Syrian troops in a border region. Reuters cited an unnamed Syrian opposition activist who witnessed the incident.

Later Russia’s Itar-TASS news agency cited its military source in Amman, Jordan’s capital, denying the clashes were between Syrian and Jordanian troops. He said the fighting erupted between the rebels and pro-government forces on the Syrian side of the border.­

The Tel Shihab-Turra border area has been used as a passage by Syrian refugees fleeing the violence. The clashes reportedly occurred after a number of refugees attempted to cross into Jordan.

There appear to be no Jordanian casualties, but no reports about the Syrian side have surfaced yet.

"The Syrian side fired across the border and fighting ensued. Initial reports indicate that there has been no one killed from the Jordanian side," a Jordanian source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Syrian government forces drove rebel fighters from the capital, Damascus, this past July, but are having a more difficult time pushing them out of the country’s largest city and commercial hub, Aleppo. Residents in the city of some 2.5 million have been seen fleeing in cars full of personal belongings.

Syria's long border with Jordan has served as an escape route for Assad’s opponents, including Prime Minister Riad Hijab who defected earlier this week. In the past, Jordanian forces stationed at the border have also been reported firing, allegedly to stop Syrians from shooting at fleeing refugees.

Many fear now that the Syrian conflict could spill into neighbouring countries. But Lajos Szaszdi, an international affairs and defense analyst, says that the Syrian army is too busy with internal enemies to seek new ones abroad.

“I don’t think that Syria would like to expand the number of open enemies, [as] they already have [many] to fight,” he told RT. “They have their hands full with the Free Syrian Army, the jihadists, [with] the possibility that Turkey might violate again their northern border as an excuse by the Turks to attack the Syrian Kurdistan. So, they will try to avoid serious conflict.”

Syria has been torn by a civil conflict for 17 months. The uprising against President Bashar Assad has claimed over 15,000 lives. Nearly 150,000 Syrian refugees have registered in the four neighbouring countries since the conflict began. In Turkey alone, over 50,000 Syrian refugees have registered.

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