Hundreds of Syrians flee to Jordan as border battle wages

Refugees are seen inside Jordan northern border on Sunday. A fierce battle between Syrian regime forces and rebels in the border area did not deter an increasing influx of Syrians into safety (Petra photo)

Hosting refugees expected to cost Amman up to $800 million in 2013
by Taylor Luck | Feb 03, 2013

AMMAN — Hundreds of Syrians fled to Jordan on Sunday as regime and rebel forces battled for control of the main Jordanian-Syrian border crossing point.

According to Jordanian security sources, heavy shelling and mortar rocket fire erupted along the Jordanian-Syrian border Sunday after rebel forces attempted to storm the Nasib/Jaber crossing point in Mafraq, around 80 kilometres northeast of Amman.

Security sources say Damascus deployed warplanes and tanks to repel the assault, which officials are calling the largest battle to have broken out along the border since the onset of the 23-month-old conflict.

Rebel forces are billing the daring operation as a “decisive battle” for the Nasib crossing, which lies some 10 kilometres west of Daraa and serves as Syria’s main conduit to Jordan.

Despite reportedly controlling up to 70 per cent of the 370-kilometre-long border, rebel forces have repeatedly failed to capture the heavily fortified border crossing.

“We will not back down until we have liberated the southern border once and for all,” said Abu Hani Al Darawi, a Free Syrian Army coordinator located in the border region.

Should they succeed in capturing the Nasib crossing, the Free Syrian Army says they aim to facilitate “mass crossings” into Jordan of the some 14,000 internally displaced persons reportedly amassed along the border currently.

Meanwhile, residents of the Jordanian border village of Jaber and the northern city of Mafraq reported sounds of loud explosions and heavy gunfire Sunday evening which security forces attributed to the ongoing clashes.

As of late Sunday, Syrian government forces remained in control of the Nasib crossing.

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Categories: Arab World, Asia, Jordan, Syria

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