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Jordan downs drone near Syria border: security official

Jordan shot down a drone on Friday (25 July) as it flew over the northeastern region of Mafraq near the border with Syria, a security official said, in the first such incident since the conflict erupted in neighbouring Syria in 2011. 

AMMAN - Jordan shot down a drone on Friday (25 July) as it flew over the northeastern region of Mafraq near the border with Syria, a security official said, in the first such incident since the conflict erupted in neighbouring Syria in 2011.

"The Jordanian armed forces shot down an unidentified drone with a missile as it flew over Mafraq," the official told AFP. "It was a violation of Jordan's airspace. Jordan will take measures at a high level after identifying the drone."

The official said the drone flew near the Zaatari refugee camp, which is home to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. "There were no injuries. The armed forces sealed off the area where the drone was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and have begun an investigation," he said.

A witness said he heard a "loud explosion" near Zaatari before seeing an unidentified object fall from the sky. Jordan is home to more than 600,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war raging in their country. Many of them have settled in the north of the kingdom.

In April, Jordanian air force fighter jets destroyed a number of combat vehicles as they tried to cross into the kingdom from Syria. The government in Damascus said the vehicles did not belong to Syria's armed forces. Jordan's border guards periodically clash with and arrest Syrians attempting to smuggle weapons and other goods across the frontier.

Amman has been careful in dealing with the devastating war, repeatedly expressing fears that it spill across the border. Damascus accuses Amman of backing the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad by training and arming rebels, but Jordan denies this.

Tension rose between the two countries in May, when Jordan expelled Syria's ambassador Bahjat Suleiman over his "repeated insults" to the kingdom, drawing a swift tit-for-tat response from Damascus, which ordered Amman's top diplomat to leave. The two envoys have yet to return to their posts.

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