Jordan arrests 8 Syrian refugees in troubled camp

  • Article by: JAMAL HALABY
  • Associated Press
  • April 21, 2013 - 3:53 AM

AMMAN, Jordan - Police have arrested eight Syrians on suspicion of inciting riots at a refugee camp near the Jordan-Syria border, a Jordanian security official said Sunday.

About 100 Syrian refugees threw stones at police on Friday for preventing some of them from sneaking out of their desert camp. Ten police officers were wounded, including two who remain in critical condition.

The security official, who requested anonymity in line with regulations, said a military prosecutor will question the eight suspects later Sunday.

If convicted, they face up to three years in jail.

The Zaatari camp houses 150,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war. Another 350,000 Syrians have found shelter in Jordanian communities.

Conditions in the overcrowded camp have worsened since it opened last July, and there have been several riots.

In Syria on Sunday, troops backed by pro-government gunmen pounded rebel areas near the Lebanese border, activists and state media said.

The clashes came as U.S. officials said the Obama administration were poised to send up to $130 million more in non-lethal military aid to rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said there was no immediate casualty report from the fighting in Basatin in Homs province. The state television said the army was trying to "uproot all the terrorists from the area" — a reference to the rebels.

Elsewhere, the Observatory said fighting was also reported in the northern province of Aleppo, three areas in the suburbs of Damascus and the central province of Idlib.

In the past two weeks, the Syrian military — supported by pro-government fighters backed by the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group — has pursued a campaign to regain control of areas near the Lebanese border.

The frontier region, near the provincial capital of Homs, holds strategic value because it links Damascus with the coastal enclave that is the heartland of Syria's Alawite minority, and includes the country's two main seaports, Latakia and Tartus.

Syria's regime is dominated by Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while the rebels are primarily Sunni Muslims.

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