Jordan reportedly weighs Syrian buffer zone

Jordan reportedly weighs Syrian buffer zone

Hashemite Kingdom said to be considering humanitarian intervention in southern Syria to keep Islamic State off the border

Counterterrorist military forces participate in exercises in Amman, Jordan, on May 27, 2012. (AP/Mohammad Hannon)
Counterterrorist military forces participate in exercises in Amman, Jordan, on May 27, 2012. (AP/Mohammad Hannon)

Jordan was said to be mulling the establishment of a humanitarian buffer zone in southern Syria to prevent the entrenchment of radical Islamists along its border, the Financial Times reported Monday.

According to unnamed sources who spoke to the paper, the Hashemite Kingdom’s intervention in the civil war would aim to “create a safe area on Jordan’s border, stretching across the southern Syrian provinces of Deraa and Suwayda, and including the city of Deraa” for moderate rebel fighters and refugees.

The report came out as Turkey reportedly weighed greater intervention in northern Syria, and as Israel reportedly mulls intervening on behalf of Syrian Druze in southern Syria should radical Islamist groups, such as al-Nusra Front, commit atrocities against the religious minority.

The newspaper article appeared to conflict with remarks made last week by a Jordanian government spokesman, who said his country would not get involved in the conflict in Syria. He rebuffed suggestions that Jordan was preparing to welcome large numbers of Druze refugees under fire in southern Syria.

Amman, however, might be forced to take action to prevent IS from taking control of the Syrian side of the Hashemite Kingdom’s northern border, according to the article. The Islamic State has made significant gains in southern Syria in recent months at the expense of more moderate rebel groups.

The Syrian Army, meanwhile, is reportedly on the verge of pulling out of the southern city of Daraa, near the border with Jordan, for fear of encirclement by rebel forces.

Sources familiar with the plans told the paper that Jordan was considering a militarized zone manned by Amman-trained rebels to keep Syrian forces from encroaching upon the buffer zone.

Following rallies by Israel’s Druze community calling for government intervention, Israel has also been grappling with how to help the embattled Syrian minority, including the possibility of the creation of a buffer zone to protect refugees.

The killing of 21 Druze in northern Syria earlier this month by the Jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra raised fears that the al-Qaeda affiliate may massacre Druze in areas that come under its control.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested the US do more to aid the community across the border, but officials in Israel have maintained they will keep to their policy of nonintervention in the Syrian conflict.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot last week said Israel would take action to prevent a slaughter of Druze in Syria if necessary.

Though Israel refuses to take in refugees, it has treated hundreds of wounded Syrians who approached the border. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday admitted Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger.

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