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Suspected Jordanian air strikes in southern Syria kill 10 – activists – BBC News

Suweida Fire Brigade posted photos showing crews searching for a person presumed dead after the strikes in Arman

At least 10 people, including children, have been killed in suspected Jordanian air strikes in south-western Syria, local activists and media say.

Several homes were reportedly destroyed in Arman, a town in Suweida province about 20km (12 miles) from the border.

There was no immediate comment from authorities in Jordan.

But its forces are believed to have carried out a number of air strikes in Syria over the past year on suspected drug smugglers and their facilities.

Jordan and its Western allies say highly organised and heavily armed Iran-backed militias operating in government-controlled areas of Syria are behind a surge in smuggling into the kingdom, particularly of the amphetamine Captagon, for which there is huge demand in Gulf Arab states.

The activist-run Suwayda 24 news website reported that the latest air strikes happened early on Thursday in residential areas of Arman and nearby Malah.

It cited witnesses as saying that the houses of two men, whom it identified as Omar Talab and Turki al-Halabi, were hit and destroyed in Arman.

Mr Talab, his mother and his aunt were killed, as well as seven members of Mr Halabi’s family including his wife and two young daughters, the witnesses added. Mr Halabi and his mother were reportedly trapped underneath their collapsed home and presumed dead.

Suwayda 24 posted a video showing people searching for victims at one site. The local fire brigade later said Mr Halabi’s body had been recovered and that crews were searching for another person.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least nine people were killed in the strikes on Arman, including five women and two children, and that a sixth woman was trapped beneath rubble.

The Observatory condemned what it called the “massacre” in Arman and said this was the third time this year that Jordanian warplanes had “violated Syrian territory”.

The strikes also targeted a damaged a warehouse and a nearby house in Malah, but no casualties were reported, it added.

On 8 January, Suwayda 24 said three people were killed in two separate strikes that hit a house and a farm in the town of Shaab as well as a barn in Arman.

One of the website’s editors, Ryan Marouf, told Reuters news agency the following day that the strike appeared to be an “escalation by Jordan of its war against drug dealers”.

He added that Jordanian forces were “targeting farms suspected of storing drugs before they are smuggled across the border, as well as the main homes and hideouts of known drug dealers”.

The Jordanian army also announced on 6 January that it had killed five people in clashes with armed smugglers who had attempted to cross from Syria.

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