Under the authority of Assad, Captagon crosses borders, and Syrians, both men and women, are trapped


As part of its security campaigns to pursue drug traffickers and curb smuggling from Syrian territories through the countryside of Sweida, the Jordanian army repeatedly targets specific coordinates in villages near the Syrian-Jordanian border, resulting in the killing of civilians, including children. This is the third time that Jordanian warplanes have bombed civilian homes in the Sweida countryside since the beginning of this year. The recent airstrikes targeting the village of Arman in the southern countryside of Sweida on 18/01/2024 resulted in the killing of two girls, five women, and three men. It is not confirmed whether the targeted men in their homes in the recent operation were drug traffickers or not. These airstrikes have sparked popular condemnation for their excessive violence, similar to previous Jordanian airstrikes that targeted a drug dealer, resulting in his death along with six victims, including his wife and five children aged between two and ten years old. Civilians are paying the price for Assad’s continued hold on power, his perpetuation of crimes and violations against the Syrian people, and his denial of the protection guaranteed by the Human Rights Charter.

The Captagon file emerged at the beginning of the conflict in Syria, initially confined to fighting groups to enhance their combat capabilities. However, it expanded further following Hezbollah’s control of the Qusayr area. Many activists and news websites began shedding light on the spread of drugs, pointing to manufacturing sites settled in villages near or far from Sweida. Concurrently, initiatives began addressing the issue as a pressing danger to society amidst the war.

The regional complaint that Sweida is a hub for trade and export is relatively recent. Sweida resisted amid many tensions, while a massive popular uprising erupted in August 2023 due to deteriorating economic conditions and various complex reasons, with the drug issue being one of its main drivers. It became closely linked to the Syrian issue, making local solutions deficient in tools, legislation, and support.

Drug use became rampant, and civil society and local community leaders often issued warnings about the situation in Sweida Province. This was due to the involvement of many local factions affiliated with Iran in flooding the Sweida market with drugs, primarily cannabis, openly sold within illegal stalls scattered heavily across the city’s sidewalks, inside cafes, and halls. Earlier reports indicated the spread of these drugs among adolescents within schools and among young men and women in university corridors.

Against the backdrop of the bloody events witnessed in the city of Salhoud and its villages in 2020, resulting from clashes between local factions opposed to the regime and militias affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard involved in drug trafficking, a highly dangerous issue emerged. Women and girls fell victim to defamation campaigns and settling of scores between those armed groups. Reports at the time pointed to numerous crimes committed against those victims under the pretext of so-called “honour crimes”. In light of these events, fake accounts linked to the Military Intelligence Directorate were created on social media platforms to leak a group of private videos found on the mobile phone of one of the detainees by the “Knights of Dignity” faction. These leaks depicted women and young girls in private gatherings by their explicit names and audio recordings in drug trafficking operations and luring victims of abduction and robbery. Later, it became clear that these women were either killed or faced an unknown fate. All of this was covered up and obscured, allowing the drug trade to flourish directly or indirectly under the auspices of the Syrian regime, especially through its security and military apparatus, at a time when the drug file was considered dangerous due to its association with influential figures in the Syrian issue.

The relationship between the two countries has gone through periods of tension and rapprochement depending on regional and international circumstances. The Nasib border crossing in Daraa Governorate, southern Syria, has been the main link between the two countries and an important artery for trade, transport, and tourism. It has been closed several times due to the conflict in Syria and worsening security risks along the borders, with smuggling and infiltration operations increasing. This culminated in the Arab summit decision to support a political solution in Syria and economic cooperation. The crossing was seen as a boost to the economies of Jordan and Syria and to improve bilateral relations. It was fully opened to border movement, but Jordan soon revealed that it served as a passage for Captagon drugs manufactured in Syria, concealed within Syrian products destined for export to Gulf countries and North Africa, accusing the Syrian regime of not protecting national and regional security. Jordan sought to express sovereignty, independence, and firmness in dealing with border violations and external interventions. However, there are still dozens of illegal crossings within the border province of Sweida with Jordan, used by local smugglers to transport drug and weapons shipments into Jordanian territory and deliver them to their counterparts on the Jordanian side.

At a time when Captagon became the financial lifeline for Assad, it was not under his complete control but shared by Iranian militias and Hezbollah, which facilitated its export in the region adjacent to Lebanon. The Captagon file for Assad and his allies has become a bargaining chip with the world. It became a prerequisite for Syria’s return to the Arab League, which it did while continuing to dominate the Captagon file and support it.

Before the Arab summit, a Moscow meeting was held, a quadripartite meeting discussed forming a committee to combat Captagon, which is produced in Syria and threatens the national security of Arab countries. After Assad had been isolated from the Arab milieu due to the armed conflict in Syria and human rights violations committed by his regime, Arab countries reinstated Syria’s seat in the Arab League to avoid confronting the Iranian threat in Syria, drawing closer to Assad and discussing a political solution for Syria.

The political solution in Syria has been linked to concessions by the Syrian regime, which still ignores them and emphasizes victories in its speeches, making changes in its security apparatuses and military structures without seeking a political solution. This made lifting US and European sanctions and Syrian reconstruction essential conditions for combating Captagon and the return of refugees, in addition to the Assad regime’s weakened ability to control its auxiliary forces, Iranian militias, and Hezbollah.

Jordan presented an Arab initiative in 2023 to rehabilitate Assad through a “step-by-step” project. Since the first meeting between the Arab League and the Syrian regime’s foreign minister in Cairo, Arab despair and frustration have been evident due to the lack of seriousness by the Assad regime in genuine reform, despite Jordan’s insistence on a real initiative to stop the flow of Captagon to Jordan.

As Jordan began to tighten its grip on the project aimed at flooding it and the Gulf with drugs, it pointed to Sweida as a targeted area in its war on drugs. It was expected to communicate with influential figures to cooperate in protecting civilians. However, Jordan’s initial strike was surprising as it targeted the branch rather than the origin of this trade. The root of the Captagon problem lies within the regime and its militias, and the solution lies in targeting these parties that primarily sponsor the Captagon trade.

Jordan’s strikes targeted civilians and children, sparking public outcry in Sweida. Urgent questions arose, suspecting that the coordinates related to the strikes were provided by the Syrian regime as revenge for the province’s rebellion in the recent protests. Therefore, the “Knights of Dignity” movement, the largest local faction in Sweida, urged cooperation for a local solution according to custom and community justice and sent messages to international bodies, emphasizing the importance of getting rid of Captagon in Sweida while protecting civilians.

The Jordanian government announced that the Syrian regime violated bilateral agreements concluded between ministries and relevant authorities. The Syrian regime, through its government, expressed its deep regret for the Jordanian airstrikes inside its Syrian territories, without justifying these military operations, although they targeted individuals involved in drug smuggling across the borders. The Syrian regime promised to contain these strikes to preserve the fraternal relations between the two countries, disregarding the innocent victims in this war.

Here, we must recall what Assad said in one of his interviews, stating that he is not responsible for finding solutions: “Countries that contributed to creating chaos in Syria should find a solution to the drug problem.”


Regarding Jordan’s motives and justifications for the airstrikes:

Politically: Jordanian airstrikes are seen as a clear message to the Syrian regime and its Iranian allies. Jordan will not allow itself to become a theater for regional and international conflicts and will defend its sovereignty and national security by all available means. It can also be seen as a confirmation of Jordan’s role as a strategic partner for the United States and Western countries in combating terrorism, extremism, and armed groups in the region. Jordan is part of the international coalition against the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria, listed as a terrorist organization, and considers its participation against these groups legitimate according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, acting upon the request of the Iraqi government and in coordination with the Syrian government.

Security-wise: The Jordanian airstrikes are considered a preemptive strike to destroy the strongholds, warehouses, and hideouts of drug smugglers supported by Iran, who pose a threat to Jordan’s internal and external security. Although drug trafficking across the Syrian-Jordanian borders and beyond violates Syrian, Jordanian, and international law.

Moreover, it can be considered a response to an attempt by armed smugglers to penetrate the Jordanian borders and introduce a truck loaded with explosives and rocket weapons. Military sources stated that the operations and seizures targeted Jordan’s national security. Additionally, Jordan voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 2462, which calls on all countries to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and refrain from supporting those involved in them.

Smuggling operations harm the national security of Jordan and Gulf countries. However, this does not give Jordan the right to enter Syrian territories and inflict harm on civilians and their properties.


Conclusion and Recommendations:

We, in The Syrian Women’s Political Movement, emphasize the importance of addressing the Syrian Captagon file, which poses a serious threat to security, health, and rights in Syria, Jordan, and the region. We fully understand that the Captagon trade is at the top of the pyramid, but we question the legitimacy of these strikes while the Syrian regime bears full responsibility for manufacturing Captagon, hiding traders and warehouses among civilians.

We strongly condemn the airstrikes carried out by the Jordanian army on As-Suwayda, which led to the killing and injuring of a number of civilians. This action violates human rights and international humanitarian law, exacerbating the suffering of the Syrian people living under an oppressive regime and a bloody war.

This military action raises many humanitarian issues and challenges, such as its impact on the security, stability, humanitarian situation, and human rights of civilians in both countries. Jordan and the international community should work together to pressure the Syrian regime to find comprehensive solutions to stop the conflict, prevent further escalation and violence.

We, in The Syrian Women’s Political Movement, believe that the permanent and fundamental solution to the Syrian Captagon file lies in ending the Syrian conflict through a political solution to achieve peace, democracy, and justice in Syria, reconstruction, development, and stability. We look forward to a free and secure future for the Syrian and Jordanian people.


The Political Committee of The Syrian Women’s Political Movement