Last updated: 17 March, 2013

Jordan and Lebanon playing with fire, says Syrian daily

Lebanon and Jordan are playing with fire by allowing jihadists and weapons to pass across their borders into Syria, the Syrian government newspaper Al-Thawra warned on Sunday.

“The fire of terrorism will consume not only Syria, but could spread to Lebanon and Jordan, particularly if these two countries intervene in the situation in Syria, ignoring the flow of armed men and weapons from their territory, or by participating directly in the conspiracy against Syria,” the newspaper said.

“Jordan has opened its borders in recent days (allowing) passage of jihadists… whereas before it was satisfied with just facilitating the movement of elements trained on its territory by US intelligence,” it added.

“As for Lebanon, it is closing its eyes to the trafficking of weapons to Syria, led by elements that are not part of the government.”

On Friday, a security source in Damascus criticised Jordan, saying the kingdom has “opened its borders and is allowing to cross over (into Syria) jihadists and Croatian weapons bought by Saudi Arabia.”

“This can only intensify the conflict and cause more casualties,” the source told AFP in Beirut on condition of anonymity.

But Jordanian Information Minister and government spokesman Samih Maaytah said Sunday that his country “rejects interfering in Syrian affairs.”

“The Jordanian army is exerting a lot of efforts to control the border and prevent infiltrations,” he told AFP in Amman.

“The goal is to preserve Jordan’s security and make sure there is no interference in Syrian affairs. Under this framework, there might be some military measures here or there, but nothing more.”

“Jordan’s position has always been clear. The kingdom’s priority is to protect its own border, while at the same time preserve Syria’s unity.”

On Thursday, Syria’s foreign ministry warned that it would retaliate if Lebanon continued to allow “armed terrorist gangs” to infiltrate.

“Syrian forces are showing restraint by not striking these gangs inside Lebanese territory to prevent them crossing into Syria, but this will not go on indefinitely,” it said in a message to its Lebanese counterpart.

Beirut has officially pledged neutrality in the violence engulfing its neighbour, but has found itself increasingly embroiled in the civil war.

Lebanon’s opposition backs the revolt, which entered its third year on Friday, while the Shiite Hezbollah and its allies stand by the Syrian regime.

Violence has already spilled over into Lebanon on several occasions, causing fatalities, and on Thursday the UN Security Council expressed “grave concern” about cross-border attacks.