Jordan won’t control al-Tanf base after US withdraws from Syria: FM
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi says his country’s military forces will neither take over nor control a US-run military base in southern Syria after American troops withdraw from the war-battered Arab country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency, Safadi said that al-Tanf base lies outside the Jordanian territory, dismissing speculations that the facility would be handed over to Jordan.
The top diplomat stressed that Amman hoped Jordan, Russia and the United States would instead hold trilateral talks to take necessary measures to ensure security in Syria’s border region with Jordan.
“Jordan will protect its borders but will not cross into Syrian territory. What we are hoping for is again to have a trilateral discussion that will agree on arrangements that will ensure security on the other side of the border.
“Al-Tanf is on the other side of the Jordanian border. As I said, Jordan will not cross its border. We will take every measure we have to protect our security. We will eliminate any threat to our security. But arrangements on the other side of the border after withdrawal will have to be agreed by all parties, and they have to ensure the safety and security in the area,” Safadi pointed out.
Rukban refugee camp
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Jordanian foreign minister hoped that a second UN humanitarian convoy would soon reach the Rukban refugee camp, located on the Syrian-Jordan border.
“The discussions over allowing the second humanitarian convoy to Rukban from inside Syria have been going on for some time. We are hopeful that an agreement will be reached soon so that the needs of the residents of the camp are met. We understand there has been some progress and we hope the convoy will be arranged soon,” Safadi said.
He highlighted that Amman continues negotiations with Moscow and Washington in a bid to permanently dismantle the camp.
The Jordanian foreign minister said the Rukban refugee camp poses a threat to his country’s security, emphasizing that terrorist attacks organized inside and carried out outside the camp have claimed the lives of several Jordanian security personnel over the past few years.
“We are in discussions with the Russians and the Americans on the modalities of achieving that as soon as possible … Similar conversations have taken place in the past through the Amman monitoring center. So we are working to have the meetings happen there … What we are working on now is to make sure that those meetings continue with a view to ensuring a quick agreement on steps to have these IDPs [internally displaced people] go back to their homes,” Safadi said.
The United Nations says about 45,000 people, mostly women and children, are trapped inside the Rukban refugee camp.
This is while Geneva-based international aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has put the number of refugees living there at some 60,000.
Last October, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said people in Rukban have been without access to food and humanitarian aid for several months.
The group highlighted that the tough situation is further complicated with a closed border by Jordan.
Jordan closed its border with Syria following an attack on its soldiers by Daesh Takfiri terrorists back in 2016. In October last year, however, Amman re-opened the Nasib border crossing with Syria for the first time in three years, as the crisis in Syria is gradually winding down thanks to the Syrian army’s decisive gains against terrorists.
The area where Rukban is located is controlled by the former US-backed Shuhada al-Qaryatayn militant group. The extremists were supposed to evacuate to Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib in accordance with a Russian-backed deal, but refused to do so.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.