Syria gunmen fire on Jordan troops at border

It is the first time that Jordan publicly reports an armed attack from Syria

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Ten gunmen from Syria opened fire on troops patrolling an isolated border area in the north, the Associated Press reported a Jordanian army spokesman as saying.

It is the first time that Jordan publicly reports an armed attack from Syria, although there have been several smuggling incidents in recent months.

The spokesman said the patrols returned fire, wounding seven and arresting three.

He declined to disclose identities, but said the late Saturday shooting was in an isolated area “not used by Syrian refugees” fleeing to Jordan.

Pro-U.S. Jordan, only one of two Arab nations that has signed a peace treaty with Israel, is concerned that al-Qaeda or militants affiliated with its rival Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah may target it.

The spokesman insisted on anonymity Sunday, saying he is not allowed to comment on an ongoing investigation.

In another incident of the Syrian conflict affecting its neighboring countries, the Lebanese army intercepted a car packed with explosives near the border with Syria on Sunday, four days after two car bombs were defused elsewhere in the country.

Agence France-Presse reported state news agency NNA saying that the car had entered Lebanon from the embattled Qalamun region across the border and was stopped at an army checkpoint when soldiers became suspicious.

A security source told AFP soldiers opened fire towards the vehicle, prompting the passengers to flee.

The car was rigged with 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of explosives which were to be triggered by mobile phones, the source said.

“The car came from the Qalamun region and was heading towards Beirut,” the NNA reported.

It identified the vehicle as a four-wheel drive and said it was seized along the Shoaybe-Ham highway in eastern Lebanon.

The army confirmed the reports in a brief statement, and said soldiers had opened fire towards the vehicle. It gave no further details.

On Wednesday the army said it defused two car bombs, one in Beirut and a second in eastern Lebanon which it said had come from Yabrud, a bastion of Syrian rebels in the Qalamun mountains.

Lebanon has seen a string of deadly attacks, including car bombs, linked to Syria’s war, claimed by al-Qaeda-linked groups.

Although officially neutral in Syria’s conflict, Lebanon is deeply divided over the Sunni-led rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, whose troops are backed by fighters from the Shiite movement Hezbollah.

(With AFP and Associated Press)

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