Jordan protests Syrian shelling that wounded girl

August 20, 2012 - 11:39 AM
Mideast Jordan Syria

Tala Husam Qerba'a, who was wounded by Syrian artillery shells that fell near her family house, recovers in Turra, Jordan, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012. Jordan's government spokesman has sternly criticized Syria for artillery shelling on its northern border that wounded a Jordanian girl and panicked other civilians. Four shells landed in Jordan on Sunday during clashes between the Syrian military and rebel forces on the Syrian side of the border. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan has sharply protested to Syria for artillery shelling that wounded a girl in a border village and panicked other civilians, Information Minister Sameeh Maaytah said Monday.

The Syrian ambassador to Jordan rebuffed a summons to the Foreign Ministry to receive a written protest, sending his deputy instead, officials said.

Late Sunday, four shells landed in Jordan's north during clashes between the Syrian military and rebel forces on the Syrian side, wounding a 4-year-old girl. She was reported in fair condition Monday. Four others were treated briefly after suffering panic attacks, Maaytah said.

Maaytah said Jordan denounced the incident and "will ensure this does not happen again." He did not say how.

Last month, Syrian troops killed a 6-year-old Syrian boy fleeing to Jordan with his family.

Maaytah said the government summoned Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman to hand him the letter of protest late Sunday.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said on his Twitter account late Sunday that the ambassador declined to report for the meeting, claiming he was busy. Judeh said a "stern warning" was given to his deputy. The text of the letter was not made public.

The affair underlines growing tensions between the two neighbors against the background of Syria's civil war.

More than 150,000 Syrian refugees are in Jordan. The presence of thousands in a squalid desert tent camp near the border is seen as an embarrassment to Syrian President Bashar Assad, illustrating that people are fleeing his military's onslaught against his own people.

Jordan tries to avoid angering its more powerful neighbor, but tensions are a constant in the relationship.

Syria opposes Jordan's alliance with the United States and its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Jordan is a critic of Iran, Syria's main ally in the region.