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Jordan in talks with Russia, US on closing Syria border camp

Rukban lies in the southern deserts of Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 November, 2018

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Jordan is in talks with Russia and the US, over the possible closure of a camp on the Syrian side of the border.

Jordan said on Thursday it is holding talks with international powers to close down camp on the Syrian side of its border.

Jordan's foreign ministry said it is holding talks with Russia and the US about al-Rukban camp which is home to around 50,000 Syrian refugees, many of them women and children.

"Jordanian-US-Russian talks have begun with the aim of finding a fundamental solution to Rukban by ensuring the right conditions of their voluntary return to their cities and towns," Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Qatarneh said, according to Reuters.

"Jordan supports the Russian plan to create the conditions that allow the emptying of the camp," he continued.

The plan would follow a Russian proposal for the residents to return to their homes in eastern Syria, which was recently re-taken by Bashar al-Assad's regime from the Islamic State group. 

Others, including former Syrian rebel fighters, would likely find refuge in opposition areas of northern Syria.

Tribal leaders at the camp said the residents are hesitant about returning to regime territories due to fears of forced conscription, according to the news agency. 

Rukban has recently received a shipment of aid after being subject to a regime siege on the camp, leading to multiple deaths from starvation and disease.

It is thought the siege was an attempt by the Assad regime to put pressure on the US, which runs the nearby al-Tanf military camp.

Pro-regime forces have been forced back from advancing on the camp following US air raids on their columns.

The camp lies close on the main Baghdad-Damascus highway, and between the border of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan.

Jordan believes that Islamic State group militants have infiltrated Rukban, following attacks by fighters on Jordanian security forces.

Amman made its border with Syria a closed military zone in 2016, after an IS attack on its troops.

Agencies contributed to this story.

 

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