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AMMAN: The Jordanian army announced that it had killed four people who were trying to smuggle “large quantities” of drugs into the country from Syria.

A Jordanian Armed Forces source said troops on Jordan’s eastern border with Syria opened fire on people trying to infiltrate the kingdom, killing four and injuring others .

The source said the infiltrators were forced to retreat into Syrian territory.

“After inspecting the area, 181 palm-sized hash leaves, 637,000 Captagon narcotics pills and 39,600 tramadol pills were found and handed over to the relevant authorities,” the source told Arab News.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London said six people were injured in the operation, some of them in critical condition.

He said one of those killed by the Jordanian army was the leader of a group that works in the narcotics industry in southern Syria and had “strong” ties to Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah.

Sunday’s operation was the latest since Jordan announced a crackdown on drug trafficking from Syria and a change in rules of engagement to curb what it described as a ‘dramatic increase’ in drug trafficking from its neighbor.

Jordan has warned that Syria is becoming a narco-state, posing cross-border threats to Jordan, the region and the rest of the world.

The JAF recently said that a total of 361 smuggling attempts from Syria were foiled in 2021, leading to the seizure of around 15.5 million narcotic pills of various types.

He foiled more than 130 smuggling attempts from Syria in 2020 and seized around 132 million Captagon pills and more than 15,000 hash leaves.

Describing the figures as “dramatically high”, a military source, who requested anonymity, told Arab News that “the illicit cultivation and manufacture of drugs has become a growing industry in Syria”.

According to the Syrian news site Enab Baladi, drug trafficking operations are most active in the southern regions of Deraa and Al-Suwayda.

Most of the smuggling routes are controlled by armed Bedouin tribesmen who have affiliations inside Jordan, according to the news site citing sources.

Experts say the strong presence of the militant organization Hezbollah in Syria and the expansion of its drug trafficking operations are the main reasons for the war-torn country becoming a narco-state and for the increase in trafficking of drugs to Jordan, the Arab Gulf States and Europe.

In recent remarks to Arab News, Fayez Dweiri, a retired major general and military analyst, said Hezbollah used narcotics trafficking to secure funding after US sanctions on Iran.

“There is an established illicit drug industry for Hezbollah in Dahieh Al-Janubiya in Beirut and in the Shia stronghold of Baalbek,” he said.

Hezbollah “has relocated some of its drug manufacturing plants to Aleppo and other areas controlled by the Syrian regime”, Dweiri said.

“US sanctions on Iran have hit Hezbollah hard, forcing Tehran’s most funded proxy to seek other sources of revenue,” he said.

According to a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hezbollah has greatly expanded and institutionalized its drug trafficking businesses, which now generate more money than its other sources of funding.

The think tank said Hezbollah’s global narcotics industry began in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in the 1970s, using well-established smuggling routes across the Israel-Lebanon border.

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