Syria closes border gate with Turkey

Syria closes border gate with Turkey

Syria yesterday closed one of its border gates with Turkey as the countries’ relations continually strain due to Ankara’s sanctions on Damascus to increase pressure on the Syrian regime over its refusal to end a violent crackdown on protestors.

A local Turkish governor said Syrian officials cited maintenance work for gate closure at Nusaybin in the southeastern province of Mardin, Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.

“They told us they would open the gate once the maintenance was over,” said Murat Girgin, Nusaybin’s deputy governor. A group of around 100 people including Syrian nationals were denied entry into Syria’s town of Kamışlı, Girgin said.

Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı said the border gates in the district of Akçakale in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa and Nusaybin were closed to human and vehicle traffic. Öncüpınar border gate in the southern province of Kilis was closed to vehicle traffic due to “security measures.” The Karkamış border gate in the southeastern province of Gaziantep was closed to goods vehicles, said Yazıcı, outlining the recent situation in Turkey’s borders with Syria.

Syrian officials were not allowing vehicles with Syrian plates to enter Syria, he said, but he could not confirm the border gates were actually under repair. “This is what they say. But we do not know whether a repair is occurring,” he said. Yazıcı said they were looking for different ways to enter Syria so as not to negatively affect tradesmen because of border gate closure.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey supported the Arab League’s initiative for Syria. Turkey wanted the problems in the region to be solved by the actors in the region, Davutoğlu told a press conference in Brussels on Dec. 7 after attending the meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
Turkey’s economy minister said Zafer Çağlayan said earlier yesterday suspension of the free trade agreement with Turkey would have a direct negative impact on Syria.

“Syria is facing economic difficulties every month due to sanctions, particularly on oil,” Cağlayan said during a conference in Ankara. Çaglayan said it was not a wise thing for Syria to put obstacles in front of Turkish trucks and Turkey was seeking new routes and negotiating with Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq.