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Jordan Will Not Take Over or Monitor al-Tanf Base After US Withdrawal - FM


[1/28/2019 6:56:08 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan is not going to take over or monitor the US military base in the eastern Syrian al-Tanf area, located on the country's border with Jordan, after Washington withdraws troops from Syria, since the facility is situated outside Jordan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told Sputnik in an interview.

The foreign minister of Jordan stressed that Amman hoped that the three countries would instead hold trilateral talks to take necessary measures to ensure security in the area.

The foreign minister stressed, however, that despite the importance of the delivery of humanitarian aid to the camp it the establishment of the facility was just a temporary measure and it should be permanently dismantled.

Safadi said that Jordan was pursuing negotiations both with Russia and the United States — as the camp is situated within the US-controlled zone surrounding its military base in the al-Tanf area — on the details of the potential dismantlement of the facility.

The foreign minister noted that the camp also posed a threat to Jordan's security, pointing out to several attacks that had been carried out just outside the camp and resulted in the death of several Jordanian security personnel over past years.

In November 2018, the camp received its first package of aid since January, after a UN humanitarian convoy traveled from Damascus to Rukban camp under the escort of the Russian military. Since December, the United Nations has been considering sending another humanitarian convoy to the facility, but only if the US staff is guaranteed safe passage.

White Helmets Members Jordan

Around 40 members of the White Helmets non-governmental organization who had been evacuated from Syria last year to be relocated to Western countries are still in Jordan, the country's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi said.

The minister stressed that Jordan would not allow the remaining White Helmets to stay because Amman allowed them into the country only as a temporary measure after being promised that they would be transferred to other states.

The White Helmets claims to be a group of volunteer rescue workers, who allegedly carry out rescue operations in Syria and help local residents prepare for attacks. However, the group has faced severe criticism on the part of both Syria itself and Russia, which accuse the Western-backed NGO of supporting terrorists and staging provocations involving chemical weapons, aimed at justifying potential foreign interventions in Syria.
Last July, hundreds of White Helmets and their family members were evacuated by Israel from Syria due to an "immediate threat to their lives." Amman said back then that it had granted passage to the group after Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom promised that they would take in its members.

Jordan to Resume Flights to Syria

Speaking about airlines flights to Syria, Ayman Safadi said that Jordan will give its airlines the green light to resume flights to Syria once the country's technical experts conclude that Syrian authorities can guarantee the necessary level of safety to the aircraft.

The foreign minister stressed that the decision whether to resume the flights or not would be purely technical and the two sides would engage in negotiations on the resumption of flights as soon as the experts give their verdict.

On Thursday, a team of technical experts from Jordan's Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission went to Damascus to examine issues related to the resumption of flights to Syria by Jordanian airlines.

Royal Jordanian Airlines suspended daily flights to Syria's Damascus and the city of Aleppo in 2012 following the escalation of the civil war in the country. As of now, however, the conflict seems to be nearing its end as the Syrian government forces have won back vast territories previously held by militants and terrorist groups.

Syrian-Jordan Relations

The appointment of an acting charge d'affaires to the Jordanian diplomatic mission in Damascus is a step in line with the country's efforts aimed at putting an end the Syrian crisis, Safadi said.

Safadi also noted that Amman never closed its diplomatic mission in the Syrian capital despite the conflict and had to temporarily close the border with Syria at one point only when Damascus lost control over it.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry announced that Amman had appointed a diplomat to its embassy in Damascus, where Jordan had not had an ambassador since 2012. Both countries, however, kept their diplomatic missions open throughout the war.

Last October, a vital checkpoint on the Syrian-Jordanian border — the Nassib crossing, which allows goods to be transported from Turkey and Lebanon to the countries of the Persian Gulf through Syria and Jordan and vice versa — was reopened. The border crossing was captured by terrorists in 2015, and the Syrian government did not regain control over the checkpoint until July 2018.

While Jordan kept its diplomatic mission in Syria open over the course of the armed conflict even after recalling its ambassador, the two country's relations strained in 2014 after Amman expelled then-Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman for violating diplomatic protocol and insulting Jordan. Damascus, in turn, expelled Jordanian charge d'affaires who was heading the country's diplomatic mission in Damascus in the absence of an ambassador.

*Sputnik

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