AMMAN, Jordan—Jordanian soldiers killed 27 armed smugglers with a large quantity of amphetamines on Jan. 27 as they tried to cross the border from Syria during a dawn snowstorm, an army spokesman said.
Others also carrying drugs fled back into Syria during the attempted crossing, one of a growing number of such incidents over the past year—many involving firefights—that have prompted the army to toughen its rules of engagement with smugglers.
Several others among the smugglers, who were “supported by other armed groups,” were wounded, the army said in a statement. It didn’t specify where along the border the incursion took place.
Many smugglers have favored Jordan’s main border crossing to the Persian Gulf region, where the army has found drugs hidden in Syrian trucks, most commonly an amphetamine known as Captagon.
Jordanian officials say Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group and militias, which control much of southern Syria, are behind the surge in smuggling and support the smugglers’ operations. Hezbollah has denied the accusations.
Jordanian officials say that they’ve raised their concerns with Syrian authorities and Russia, a main ally of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, whose military police maintain a presence in southern Syria.
Syrian authorities have announced several major interceptions of drugs destined for Gulf markets in recent months and say they’re cracking down on domestic production of Captagon.
U.N. drug experts say Syria, shattered by a decade of civil war, has become the region’s main production site for drugs destined for Jordan, Iraq, and Europe.