Syria and Jordan Agree to Reopen Vital Crossing After Three-Year Closure

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AFP

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Jordan and Syria agreed Sunday to reopen a vital border crossing between the two countries, three years after the commercial lifeline fell to rebel groups and traffic was halted.

Jordan government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said the Naseeb crossing would be opened Monday after operational details are agreed upon, according to the Jordanian Petra news agency. Syria’s Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar also confirmed the crossing’s reopening, according to Syria’s state news agency.

The two governments had earlier issued conflicting reports of when the crossing would open.

The crossing’s reopening would bring major relief to President Bashar Assad’s government by restoring a much-needed gateway for Syrian exports to Arab countries.

The resumption of commercial trade through the crossing would also be a diplomatic victory for Assad, whose government has been isolated from its Arab neighbors since the war began in 2011.

Arab countries have boycotted the Syrian government since the early days of the war, freezing its membership in the 22-member state Arab League.

“The Naseeb crossing is a vital lifeline for trade between the two brotherly countries Jordan and Syria through them to other Arab countries,” Ghunaimat said, according to Petra.

Rebels seized the crossing in 2015, disrupting a major trade route between Syria and Jordan, Lebanon and oil-rich Gulf countries.

Syrian troops recaptured it in July this year, after rebels reached an agreement with Russian mediators to end the violence in the southern province of Daraa and surrender the crossing.

The crossing is also vital for Syria’s neighboring Lebanon, providing its agricultural products a route to foreign markets. It is the only land route that links Syria’s neighboring Lebanon with foreign markets to export agricultural products.

The Syrian government would also collect transit fees from convoys coming from Jordan. Last month, the Syrian ministry of transportation increased fees for empty and loaded Syrian, Arab and foreign trailers crossing Syrian territory.

The recapture of Naseeb crossing marked a major victory for Assad’s forces, which have been on a winning streak since 2015 when Russia threw its military weight behind Damascus. The victory in southern Syria signaled the return of his forces to Daraa province where the uprising against him began seven years ago.

Separately, Syrian state terrestrial TV station resumed broadcasting to the eastern city of Deir el-Zour and surrounding areas for the first time in seven years, pro-state TV reported Sunday.

 

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