Jordanian military warplanes struck a convoy of vehicles as they were trying to enter Jordan from Syria, the Jordanian army said in a statement Wednesday. A Syrian military official acknowledged the vehicles did not belong to the Syrian army. According to the Associated Press, the statement did not say how many vehicles were in the convoy, nor did it offer casualty figures. On a separate incident, a Royal Jordanian Air Force F-5E jet fighter crashed while on a training mission near the town of Safawi, killing the pilot. The crash site was about 100 kilometers west of the site where the vehicles were hit a day before. Unnamed sources added that three vehicles were engaged when travelling off-road near Ruwaished (75 west of the Iraqi border), in northern Jordan. It also did not specify whether the vehicles were targeted on Syrian or Jordanian soil.
The attack was carried out yesterday morning at 10:30 a.m.local time (0730 GMT). The statement claimed the vehicles were “camouflaged” and were driving in a rugged area near the border and ignored demands to stop from security forces. The statement said Jordanian aircraft fired warning shots at the vehicles, but they did not stop. The warplanes then destroyed the vehicles. The photos released by the military show several burning vehicles without camouflage or distinctive weapons on them.
While the long and open desert border separating the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Syria is open is often crossed by smugglers, often arrested by Jordanian border guards. Jordan is also providing an access point for supplying weapons to the Syrian rebel forces. It is the first time since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 that Jordan has openly used military aircraft to hit vehicles along the border.
The Israeli website Debka Files claims the convoy attacked by the Jordanians was in fact an Al-Qaeda affiliated Iraqi strike force manned by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters, coming from the western Iraqi province of Anbar. They chose the Syrian route to avoid running into Jordanian military forces securing the border from infiltration by Syrian rebels and refugees. Debka claimed their their target was a secret US-Jordanian training camp situated west of Ruwaished, where US Non Governmental contractors are said to be training Iraqi army and police forces in advanced counter terror combat tactics. The insurgents opted to take a detour through chaotic, lawless sector of southern Syria to avoid detection by Jordanian security forces.
If this information is true, this is the first time that ISIS is turning against US targets outside Iraq, since the American withdrawal from that country.