(Photo credit: Sputnik)
Around 15 members of Syria’s security forces were injured in a blast on 30 January after an explosive device was detonated near their bus as they were returning to the capital on the Damascus-Deraa international highway, local sources told media.
“Fifteen members of the Internal Security Forces were injured in varying degrees when an explosive device [was detonated], targeting their overnight bus near the Khirbet Ghazaleh Bridge on the (Damascus-Deraa) highway,” a source in the southern Deraa governorate’s police force told Russian news outlet Sputnik.
According to the source, some of them sustained serious injuries in the blast, which took place as the bus was returning from the Jaber-Nassif border crossing with Jordan en route to Damascus as part of a shift exchange.
The Deraa police source added that the explosive device was planted in the middle of the road, on the separation line between the two lanes of the Damascus-Deraa highway. The source said that medical teams began treating the injured and transporting them to Izraa National Hospital in the Deraa countryside.
Lately, there has been a surge in militant activity across Syria since the start of the Turkish-Syrian reconciliation process, which the armed opposition – particularly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – has expressed a complete rejection of.
Additionally, militant activity and drug smuggling have risen lately on the border with Jordan, which lies approximately 13 kilometers from Deraa. As a result, Syria will soon be implementing new border control policies in order to curb these activities, which threaten the security of both the governorates of Deraa and Suwayda, as well as the Hashemite kingdom.
In August 2021, the strategic Jaber-Nassif border crossing between Jordan and Syria was reopened, followed by a resumption of friendly ties between Amman and Damascus after years of enmity and the former’s involvement in fueling the war.
Over the course of that month, however, Deraa witnessed intense clashes between Syrian government forces and extremist militants, resulting in the reclosure of the Jaber-Nassif crossing, which represents a major lifeline to Jordanian economic interests.
Some analysts suggested at the time that there was a link between the resumption of fighting in Deraa and the opening of the border crossing with Jordan, which in other words, means that militants may have been encouraged to increase escalation in that area as an attempt to compromise positive relations – particularly economically – between Amman and Damascus.
On 28 February 2022, Syrian security officer Maher al-Wassouf – who was in charge of the Jaber-Nassif border crossing – was assassinated in Deraa as part of a string of killings that year which mainly targeted those who were involved in the Russian-sponsored reconciliation program.