Activists: Syrian regime used phosphorous bombs near Jordan border
Activists are accusing the Assad regime of using phosphorous bombs near the Jordanian border. Zaatari refugee camps, which houses over 120,000 Syrian refugees forced out of their country by violence, lies only a few kilometres from the border. (AFP/File)
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Activists and local residents have accused Syrian regime forces on Wednesday of deploying phosphorous bombs in recent battles near the Jordan border, raising concerns over Damascus’ willingness to use its alleged chemical weapons stockpile.
According to activists and local residents, Syrian government forces deployed white phosphorous rockets during a battle against rebel forces in the village of Daal and the southern city of Daraa on Monday and Tuesday — less than 15 kilometres away from the Jordanian-Syrian border.
Civilians who witnessed the battle claim that the attack left 20 civilians dead and contaminated dozens of farms, schools and homes.
“As soon as the rockets fell, white dust covered the entire village,” said 54-year-old Daal resident Mohammed Al Hamad, who fled with his family of five to nearby Sheikh Al Maskin during the attack.
“We knew immediately it we were being hit by chemical weapons.”
The alleged incident — which occurred less than a month after a reported chemical weapons attack left over 1,000 dead in the Damascus countryside on August 21— raised fresh concerns over Damascus’ willingness to deploy chemical weapons near Jordanian territory.
The Jordan Armed Forces declined to confirm or deny the alleged incident, stressing that border forces are “taking all necessary steps” to prevent any potential fallout of a chemical weapons attack near Jordanian territory.
However, a military official confirmed that Jordanian authorities have detected phosphorous use near Daraa, placing border forces on “high alert”.
“We know that at least one party used phosphorous in southern Syria this week and we are taking the necessary measures should they be used closer to Jordanian soil,” a military officer familiar with these preparations, who is not authorised to speak to the press, told The Jordan Times.
Despite the heightened precautions, the situation along the Jordanian-Syrian border remained “normal” as of late Wednesday, officials said, downplaying any potential threat posed by the reported phosphorous strike on Jordan.
“The use of phosphorous bombs in this particular incidence will not affect Jordan, but we are prepared if, God forbid, it is used closer to the border a second time,” the official source said.
According to officials, authorities last week distributed gas masks to military forces, police and emergency first responders across northern Jordan in the event of a chemical weapon attack near the Jordanian-Syrian border.
Officials have stressed several times in recent weeks that security forces have “taken all necessary steps and precautions” to ensure the country’s safety and security in the face of any potential spillover of the Syrian conflict.
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