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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Border between Jordan and Syria to reopen on Monday

The move was confirmed by a Jordanian government spokesperson and Syrian state television

A general view of the Jordanian side of the Jaber-Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan. EPA
A general view of the Jordanian side of the Jaber-Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan. EPA

The border between Jordan and Syria will reopen on Monday, after three years of closure under rebel control, the Jordanian government confirmed today.

"This was a crucial artery of trade between Jordan and Syria and transit to other countries," Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said, announcing the news.

Weeks of talks led to the reopening of the border, a key moment in the return to normality for the economy of post-war Syria.

Syrian government forces retook the Nassib crossing in July with help from Moscow where they drove rebels from their stronghold in the southwest of the country.

Technical teams on both sides of the border met in Jordan on Sunday where they reached an agreement to open the crossing on Monday.

Amman wanted to secure guarantees from Moscow to restore stability to the border, where they fear a spillover of violence and radicalism pose a threat.

But the crossing will not be open to normal traffic just yet, Nael Husami, the head of the Amman chamber of industry said on Sunday.

The roads leading to the crossing on the Syrian side of the border are being repaired, Syria's Interior Minister Mohammed Al Shaar said on state television.

A heavy air offensive from Russian planes churned the ground making travel on Syria's roads slow and unpredictable.

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Syrian-Jordanian Nassib crossing was a key point of transport for moving goods between Europe and the Gulf before war broke out in Syria in 2011, but in 2015 it was captured by rebels shutting it down to trade.

Billions of dollars of goods passed through the border every year and the closure hurt the economy of Syria and neighbouring states. L

In July, an offensive in the southwest of the country focussing on the city of Sweida drove rebel groups out of the region.

Russia provided air support for the Syrian army, which allowed them to regain control of the southwest of the country.

Pockets of ISIS fighters were also driven from the region.

At the end of September, Syrian state media said the border had reopened, but this was denied by Jordan, who said the two sides were still studying the reopening of the border.

Shortly after, Syrian media changed their statement, declaring that the preparations for the reopening of the border were complete and it would reopen on October 10.

Syria's only other normally operating border is with Lebanon. Its frontier with Turkey is only open into rebel-held areas, and its crossing with Iraq is only open for government or military uses.

On Sunday Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrived in Damascus for a three-day visit. The two countries have previously said they want to reopen their frontier.