Last updated: 23 April, 2012

500 Syrians flee to Jordan after ambushes

A prominent Jordanian charity said on Monday that some 500 Syrian refugees have fled to the neighbouring kingdom in the past two days after escaping from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“On Sunday, around 300 refugees managed to escape a Syrian army ambush near the border and entered Jordan. More than 30 people have been wounded by army fire,” Zayed Hammad, head of the Muslim Ketab and Sunna Society, told AFP.

“The Jordanian army switched off the lights on the border when the shooting started to prevent snipers from killing the refugees,” he said, adding that one of the wounded has since died.

The charity provides aid to 30,000 Syrian refugees in the kingdom.

“Around 200 people from Syria fled to Jordan on Saturday after going through a similar ordeal. Other Syrian refugees have told me that that they had to bribe Syrian soldiers on the border to let them leave the country,” said Hammad.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Thursday that the number of registered Syrians in Jordan had reached around 12,500 this month, adding that the number is expected to rise.

Amman has said that more than 100,000 Syrians have sought refuge in the kingdom since the uprising against Assad erupted in March last year.

Meanwhile, Manuel Basler, a Swiss government envoy who arrived in Jordan on Sunday to examine the situation of Syrian refugees, has held talks with officials after visiting border cities.

“Switzerland seeks to help the refugees as well as host countries, particularly Jordan,” the state-run Petra news agency quoted Basler as saying.

“Jordan should be supported for hosting the refugees and for keeping its border open to them.”

The Syria conflict has killed more than 11,000 people, according to monitors, while the United Nations puts the death toll at over 9,000.