Jordan carrier resuming flights to Syria in new sign of thaw
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s national airline will resume direct flights to Damascus on Oct. 3, Jordan’s state-run news agency reported Tuesday, nearly a decade after flights were suspended because of the war in Syria.
The resumption of flights is the latest sign of thawing relations between the two neighbors.
The decision was announced at the end of a two-day ministerial meeting held in Jordan’s capital of Amman, in which the two sides discussed strengthening cooperation in the trade, transport, energy and agriculture sectors, according to the Petra news agency.
Royal Jordanian halted its flights to Damascus, the Syrian capital, and Aleppo in 2012 at the height of the Syrian civil war due to security reasons. In 2019, as military operations in Syria receded, airlines were able to resume flights in Syrian air space. In October 2018, Jordan also reopened a key border crossing with Syria, allowing the flow of goods between the two countries to resume.
Jordan is a close Western ally and has offered support to Syrian rebels operating near its border. It hosts more than 650,000 Syrian refugees.
After a decade of conflict, military operations in Syria have largely died down after President Bashar Assad’s forces — aided by allies Iran and Russia — recaptured most of the territory previously held by rebels.
More recently, some Arab countries have shown a willingness to mend relations with Syria, whose membership in the Arab League was suspended in 2011 over its brutal crackdown against largely peaceful protests.
Last week, Syria’s defense minister was invited to Amman for talks with Jordan’s army chief on border security.
Earlier this month, ministers from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt said after meeting in Amman that Egyptian natural gas should reach Lebanon through Jordan and Syria as soon as next month, after maintenance of pipelines and the review of a deal interrupted 10 years ago.