SHAFAQNA – Jordan declared its border regions with Iraq and Syria “closed military zones” after a suicide bombing on Tuesday killed six soldiers and injured 14 others.
General Mashal al Zaben, the chairperson of the joint chiefs of staff of the Jordanian Army, announced the closed military zones with immediate effect and warned that any movement in the area would be treated “without leniency”.
“Any vehicle and personnel movement within these areas without prior coordination will be treated as enemy targets and dealt with firmly,” the army’s statement said.
Tuesday’s attack was carried out near the Syrian border; no group has claimed responsibility for it yet.
Jordanian King Abdullah II vowed to hit back with an “iron fist” after meeting top civilian and military officials to discuss the attack in an area where thousands of Syrian refugees are stranded.
The Jordanian government also announced there would be no construction of new refugee camps.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani told the BBC there had been warnings for months that militants, including DAESH, were hiding among Syrians stuck at the border.
Momani stressed that people were angry about the attack, which he said was aimed at undermining the country’s security and stability.
International relief workers said the Jordanian authorities suspended all humanitarian aid to the area which could put the lives of refugees at risk.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs Nasser Judeh confirmed deliveries of aid to the border had been halted until a safer area was found. “There is a large concentration of people along [these] borders and [there is] a big infiltration of elements from DAESH,” Judeh said.
At least 70,000 Syrian refugees live close to the Syrian-Jordanian border in al-Rukban, the desolate desert area where Tuesday’s attack took place. The suicide bomber set off in a vehicle from a makeshift Syrian refugee camp in no man’s land near the Rukban border crossing. The driver entered Jordanian territory through an opening used for humanitarian aid deliveries and blew himself up as he reached a military post.
A similar attack took place in 2011 when the Syrian conflict started. A truck full of explosives coming from the Syrian border exploded next to a Jordanian military post.