AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan’s air force shot down an unidentified drone near the north-eastern border with Syria on Friday, a government spokesman said, the first such event announced by authorities since Syria’s crisis began in 2011.
Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters the “aerial target was shot after being intercepted” when it violated Jordanian air space near the northern border city of Mafraq. It came down in a desert area.
“Any violation of the kingdom’s border will be dealt with firmly and forcefully and the armed forces will not allow any tampering with the security of the country,” Momani said.
Washington has given its staunch Middle Eastern ally tens of millions of dollars in the last few years to set up elaborate air and land defences along the border with Syria, deploying U.S. Patriot missiles and F16 fighter jets.
The United States has also financed the construction of dozens of state-of-the-art surveillance towers along the border.
Jordan has gradually boosted the number of troops along the frontier in recent months. It has also tightened controls to prevent Islamist militants from crossing into Syria to join rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
Although the kingdom has closed most of its unofficial border crossings with Syria, restricting an influx of refugees who crossed to flee violence, Amman continues to receive tens of wounded civilians for treatment in its hospitals, officials say
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Tom Heneghan