Jordan and Syria say border to reopen on Monday

Charlene Craig
October 18, 2018

A vital border crossing linking Syria and Jordan has reopened for the first time in three years, promising to restore commercial trade and travel between the two countries.

After years of isolation, Syria's border crossings are under the spotlight again with some of them reopened as the Syrian government has regained the upper hand in the more than seven-year-long war.

The Syrian army re-captured Daraa and the border crossing in July after the rebels in the province surrendered and agreed to evacuate to rebel-held areas in northern Syria, mainly the northwestern province of Idlib.

Jordan is heavily reliant on imports and foreign aid, much of which used to pass through Syria.

The first day of the re-opening was limited to the movement of a number of citizens and investors, while cargo movement remained unchanged as clearance offices at the Jaber crossing were not operational and owners of these offices are working on re-licensing them.

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Jordanian cargo is also allowed to leave for Syria in accordance with the agreement, the Petra news agency said.

Israel on Monday reopened its Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights to United Nations observers who had left the area in 2014 amid fierce fighting between Syrian regime forces and rebels.

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Mideast war.

The crossing, which was mostly used by the Druze population in the Golan Heights, was closed in 2014 by the IDF after rebels groups and al-Qaeda militants took over the town of old Quneitra. Last month, the coalition denied using the substance in Syria after the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation issued a report of airstrikes carried out using the internationally-prohibited weapons by US F-15 fighter jets on September 8.

"The Naseeb crossing is a vital lifeline for trade between the two brotherly countries Jordan and Syria through them to other Arab countries", said Jordan's government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat.

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However, although the crossing will be officially opened on Monday, it will not open to normal traffic just yet, said Nael Husami, head of the Amman chamber of industry.

For his part, Muallem said that the terror groups were controlling the crossings, accusing the countries backing them of standing against the opening of the crossings. Syria's main border crossing with Iraq at Albukamel remains in the hands of US -backed Kurdish forces and is closed due to fears of Iran using it to smuggle weapons into the region. Ryan, of the coalition, said he could not confirm whether SDF fighters were taken.

Lebanese politicians are sharply divided between supporter and opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In July, the Iraqi forces worked to enhance the security situation on the border with Syria, installing cameras and flying drones to ensure the security against any threat from IS.

The statement comes a few days after the US -led coalition used white phosphorus ammunition while targeting the town of Hajin, one of the few Islamic State (IS)-held areas in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour province.

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