Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Jordanian armed forces have seized a major shipment of arms, ammunition, explosives and drugs after a clash with smugglers, according to an official statement issued this week.
The statement from the Jordanian armed forces General Command said: “Border guard forces on the Syrian front this morning foiled an attempt to smuggle large quantities of medium and light weapons, ammunition, explosives and drugs, as well as large quantities of cigarettes from Syria into Jordan.”
A source at the General Command said five people were arrested—one of whom was injured in a clash with the border guards–while attempting to smuggle the arms.
The source of the weapons and the quantity of the arms confiscated were not revealed. The nationalities of the smugglers were also not revealed.
Meanwhile, a senior Jordanian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the modern night vision equipment the Jordanian Armed Forces received from the United States last year helped uncover many smuggling attempts along the 230 mile (370 kilometer) border, especially in open desert areas in the east.
The source added that “Jordan received night vision equipment capable of revealing any moving body at a distance of 45 kilometers [28 miles]–but the equipment the armed forces had before were only capable of revealing bodies at a distance of 16 kilometers [10 miles]–enabling the command to monitor and track the target secretly.”
The commander of the Jordanian border guards, Brig. Gen. Hussein Al-Zyoud, told reporters that smuggling activity across the Jordanian¬–Syrian border had increased by 300 percent over last year.
In the same period, the increase in the rate of illegal border crossings into and out of Jordan rose by 250 percent, while 900 weapons were confiscated. In addition to that, 6 million narcotic pills, 24 cars of various makes and up to 90,000 sheep were also confiscated.
The Jordanian Armed Forces announced in June and August last year that they had foiled two attempts to smuggle large quantities of weapons and drugs, and that a number of smugglers were held and referred to the State Security Court.
Both cases involved Syrian and Jordanian nationals who allegedly attempted to smuggle weapons across the border with Syria, in both directions.
The Syrian crisis has led to a growing market for guns in Jordan, with increasing numbers of Jordanian seeking to buy weapons in response to fears of the violence spilling across the border.
The number of weapons has reportedly risen to over ten times the pre-war level, in a country estimated to contain nearly a million unlicensed firearms.