Jordan opens first Syrian refugee camp with capacity for 120,000
WATCH: Opening marks turnaround for Amman, which fears worsening ties with Damascus.
Jordan on Sunday opened its first camp for Syrian refugees, as thousands flee the conflict in their country.
The Zaatari camp - a tented facility located in the desert outskirts of the border city of Mafraq and designed to host more than 120,000 refugees - was inaugurated by the Jordanian government and United Nations.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh underlined the camp's opening as part of Jordan's ongoing support for displaced Syrians, who are now entering the country at a rate of about 2,000 per day.
The camp was set to welcome its first batch of 500 Syrians late Sunday as part of an initial pilot phase, ahead of a mass transfer of refugees in August, the authorities said.
The opening marked a turnaround for Jordan, which despite granting refuge to more than 140,000 Syrians since the beginning of the uprising has resisted opening refugee camps over concerns of worsening already tense ties with Damascus.
Amman lifted its reservations earlier this month after the daily refugee influx jumped from 500 to more than 1,000 per day, and gave the UN the go ahead to establish up to 200 camps to host more than 1 million Syrians.
Humanitarian aid agencies reported the arrival of scores of wounded Syrians early Sunday, and said that thousands were escaping to Jordan in spite of the strengthened Syrian military blockade.
UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, said more than 1,000 Syrians crossed into Jordan early Sunday, dozens of whom had gunshot wounds.
Despite being transported to a hospital in the border city of Ramtha, three of the refugees were pronounced dead on arrival, raising to 10 the number of Syrians killed in the Jordanian-Syrian border region since Friday.
The Syrian military has intensified its blockade of the border region, with Damascus' ongoing targeting of civilians attempting to flee to Jordan stoking tensions between the two countries.
While opening fire on a group of 300 refugees on Friday south of Daraa, where the Syrian uprising began, Syrian forces mistakenly targeted Jordanian patrols, sparking a 20-minute firefight and leading Amman to announce a "state of high alert" along the border region.
Security sources said Friday's incident marked the first direct clashes between Jordanian and Syrian forces and comes as a sign that Damascus is losing tolerance with Amman's ongoing policy of granting refuge to all Syrians entering the country.
Opposition activists say the Syrian clampdown is designed to prevent the flight of relatives of military servicemen, whose safety they claim remains the regime's sole leverage to prevent en masse defections.
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