Jordan to keep border closed to Syria's displaced

Jordan's army said Tuesday (July 3rd) the kingdom's border with Syria would remain closed, even as tens of thousands of Syrians flee a government offensive towards the frontier.

The commander of the kingdom's northern military region, General Khaled al-Massaid, told AFP that authorities feared the presence of "infiltrators among the displaced".

Around 95,000 Syrians have arrived in the border region "as a result of the latest military operations", he said.

Syrian government troops backed by Russian airpower launched an offensive on June 19th to recapture the country's southern Daraa region along the border with Jordan.

"The borders are closed and the army is being very cautious with the displaced, fearing the presence of... infiltrators with weapons and disguised as women," said the general.

The UN said Monday the number of Syrians displaced by the onslaught had already exceeded 270,000, with 70,000 people seeking shelter along the border.

Massaid said 86 trucks had crossed the frontier over the past three days to deliver food and drinking water to the displaced.

Jordan's army has been distributing humanitarian aid and providing medical treatment at three points along the border, he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman Liz Throssel urged Jordan to open its border to the "thousands of refugees stranded without adequate shelter".

"We urge all parties to the conflict to protect civilians in southwestern Syria, and to protect those attempting to flee," she said.

Jordan said on June 24th that it would be unable to host a new wave of Syrian refugees and that its northern border would remain closed.

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