Jordanian authorities have arrested of group of 10 alleged Syrian army defectors suspected of spying for President Bashar al-Assad.

Police picked up the men, who said they were fighting for the Free Syrian Army, in the city of Mafraq, approximately 60km (37 miles) of the capital Amman, the Public Department said. The group has been transferred to a detention facility in Mafraq and are being questioned.

"We don't know if they are officers, soldiers or spies. So security services took the extra precaution in order to determine their true identity and intentions," said Public Security Department spokesman Mohammed Khatib.

A senior rebel told AFP the men were spies. "After checking with the Free Syrian Army, we found they are not army defectors. They are spies who came here to gather information on Syrian refugees," he said.

At least 80,000 Syrian refuges have sought shelter in Jordan since March 2011, according to the government.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it has registered more than 6,000 Syrians in Jordan since last year. A further 2,500 are awaiting registration.

Jordan has accused the Syrian government before of sending agents into the country under the pretext of being army defectors.