Jordan has opened two corridors of its airspace to Israeli Air Force drones seeking to monitor the ongoing conflict in Syria, French daily Le Figaro reported on Sunday, citing a Western military source in the Middle East.
According to the report, Jordanian King Abdullah made the decision in March during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Jordan, which came immediately after his first trip as president to Israel.
Le Figaro quoted the military source as saying that the Israeli drones fly at night to avoid detection. The source added that “the Syrians have Russian air defense assets, but Israeli aircraft are difficult to detect and therefore virtually immune to anti-aircraft measures.”
According to the source, the unmanned aerial vehicles are carrying out surveillance, but “they are also armed and therefore can hit targets anywhere in Syria.”
The Jordanian air corridors allow Israel to avoid accessing Syrian airspace through southern Lebanon, which it fears could draw a response from Hezbollah, Le Figaro added.
The report comes as Israel has become increasingly concerned with jihadist elements of the Syrian opposition setting up in the Syrian Golan on the border and Syrian military artillery fire crossing the border into Israel. Israeli officials have also stated repeatedly that the country was monitoring the movements of Syria’s chemical weapons and it would take action, if necessary, to stop such weapons from being delivered into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon or other terrorist groups.
In late January, Israel allegedly struck a convoy on the Syria-Lebanon border delivering anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah.
Abdullah’s decision to open Jordan’s skies to Israeli Air Force drones came after the Jordanian monarch met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in early March in hopes of stemming the tide of Syrian refugees into Jordan. According to Le Figaro, Abdullah came away from the secret meeting with Assad empty-handed.
Assad issued a warning to Jordan last week, claiming that thousands of fighters had crossed into Syria from Jordan to battle government forces and the conflict could spread to Jordanian territory.
“The fire will not stop at our border and everybody knows that Jordan is exposed as Syria is,” Assad said in an interview broadcast on Al-Ikhbariya television.