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Syrian soldiers open fire on Jordanian troops receiving refugees

Last modified: 2 Aug 2012 09:42

A Jordanian soldier and two Syrian refugees were injured early on Thursday in a clash sparked when Syrian soldiers opened fire on Jordanian patrols waiting to take in people fleeing the conflict in Syria, a security and medical sources said.

The 20-minute battle on the Syrian-Jordanian border was the third such clash in less than a week and was started by Syria as Jordanian forces were preparing to receive 400 Syrian refugees, a Jordanian security official said.

Medical sources at a government-run hospital in the nearby city of Ramtha said authorities transported three men with gunshot wounds for treatment, two of them believed to be Syrian nationals who were injured when crossing into Jordan. 

The third injured man was a Jordanian soldier, the security official said. Residents in the Jordanian border village of al-Turra reported hearing gunshots and heavy artillery during the clashes.

Syrian government forces have killed or wounded hundreds of Syrians attempting to enter Jordan as part of a three-month-old border clampdown.

But Jordanian sources who requested anonymity said the recent clashes marked the first time Syrian forces have directly targeted Jordanian forces, a move they claimed was aimed at pressuring Amman to close its borders to refugees.

The Jordanian government has repeatedly denied any rise in tensions along the border, saying that although Damascus has opened fire on Syrians fleeing into Jordan, Jordanian forces have not intervened or engaged their Syrian counterparts.

The issue of refugees fleeing Syria's 17-month conflict between the government and rebels has become a growing point of contention between Amman and Damascus with Syria objecting to Jordan's ongoing policy of granting refuge to all Syrians entering the country, including military defectors.

Syrian activists and security sources claimed Amman has increased cooperation with the rebel Free Syrian Army in recent weeks to ensure the safe passage of more than 1,000 refugees into Jordan each night.