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Jordanian military kills 27 drug smugglers on border with Syria

AMMAN, Jordan: The Jordanian military said this week that its troops killed 27 suspected smugglers attempting to enter from neighboring Syria.

According to the army’s website, its forces prevented several suspected attempts to smuggle drugs into Jordan from Syria, and large quantities of narcotics were seized in separate operations that wounded several people.

The Jordanian military said it was “continuing to apply the newly established rules of engagement and will strike with an iron fist and deal with force and firmness with any infiltration or smuggling attempts to protect the borders.”

Earlier this month, a Jordanian army officer was killed in a shootout with smugglers along the same border.

Jordan is home to more than 650,000 Syrian refugees who fled the country’s more than decade-long civil war.

In September, after Syrian government forces captured rebel-held areas along the border, Syrian and Jordanian officials discussed security along the frontier.

One month later, after the two countries reopened a key border crossing, Jordan’s King Abdullah II spoke with Syrian President Bashar Assad for the first time in a decade.

After 10 years of civil war, an illegal drug industry operates in Syria, which has has emerged as a center for manufacturing and selling captagon, an illegal amphetamine. Both Syria and neighboring Lebanon have become gateways for the drug to the Middle East, most notably to the Gulf countries.

In 2014, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime said the amphetamine market was on the rise in the Middle East, with more than 55 percent of amphetamines seized worldwide being confiscated in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.

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