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27 drug smugglers killed at Jordan-Syria border, Jordanian army says

By Celine Alkhaldi, CNN

Jordanian soldiers killed 27 armed drug smugglers as they tried to enter the country from Syria on Thursday, an army spokesman said.

Smugglers were “backed up by armed groups” who managed to flee back into Syrian territory, the spokesman said in a statement.

“Large quantities of narcotics” were seized from the crime scene, he said.

The army statement said they encountered smugglers on different fronts on the border with Syria and that there were multiple, coordinated operations to take them down.

It is not yet clear what type of drugs were seized, another army spokesman told CNN. The spokesman, who asked to remain anonymous per Jordanian Army protocol, said that snowy weather conditions have slowed down the investigation.

Jordanian authorities say they have been seizing more and more drugs flooding in from Syria in recent years, and United Nations officials have warned of a growing number of security incidents related to Syrian drug smuggling.

The amount of drugs seized in 2021 was double that in 2020, according to army figures, with January on track to set a monthly record for drug busts.

The Jordanian Armed Forces said this month alone more than five million Captagon pills that had been brought into Jordan from Syria had been confiscated.

Captagon is a common stimulant used as an alternative to amphetamine and methamphetamine in the Middle East. It’s also used in some countries bordering the European Union, the army said. Captagon was originally the brand name for a medicinal product containing the synthetic stimulant fenethylline. Though it is no longer produced legally, drugs carrying the Captagon name are regularly seized in the Middle East, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Jordanian authorities have accused ISIS of producing the drug and selling it to finance terrorist activities. In 2015, a US official alleged that the terror group was giving the drug to its fighters.

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