The ancient road to Damascus that passes through here, a route plied by traders for thousands of years, is now severed. The government border crossing between Jordan and Syria has been sealed after the heavy fighting, barrel bombing and wild looting that took place last week at the checkpoint and nearby trade zone.

The crossing, which was captured on the Syrian side by moderate rebel forces, was the last official gateway between Jordan and Syria along their 230-mile border. War had already shut the others. Refugees from Syria can still cross through special one-way checkpoints manned by the Jordanian military. But the ordinary movement of goods and people between the countries is finished, and Jordanian officials said it is unlikely to resume anytime soon.

This week, the last few miles of four-lane Jordanian highway to the Syrian frontier were deserted, except for sheep grazing on the spring grass and lines of stranded truckers trying to get home to Syria. On the other side of the border, Syrian truckers were held hostage by rebels for several days, and their loads were ransacked. […]