Turkey reopens key border crossing with Syria
KİLİS - Anadolu Agency
Turkey's southeastern border gate with Syria reopened on March 5 after an eight-year hiatus.
Turkish trucks are now able to cross the Öncüpınar border gate in the province of Kilis after showing relevant travel documents to custom officials.
The border gate was closed in 2011 when civil war broke out in Syria.
Turkish trucks had to stop at the border gate and transfer their goods to Syrian trucks.
According to information obtained by Anadolu Agency, 50 trucks crossed to Syria through the gate in the last few hours after the opening.
Serdar Tohumcu, a truck driver, said the reopening the gate has reduced travel time.
"When I used the Çobanbey customs gate in southeastern Turkey, it took four hours to reach Syria's Azaz province, but now it takes only 15 minutes via Öncüpınar," Tohumcu said.
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In the meantime, a border gate between Turkey and northern Syria's Afrin region is ready and will be opened next week, Turkey's Trade Minister said on March 5, advancing a project aimed at speeding up aid and equipment flows.
The border crossing is dubbed "Olive Branch", named after Turkey's military operation last year.
Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria have cleared a region including Al-Bab, Afrin, and Azaz from the YPG, which is the Syrian arm of the outlawed PKK, and ISIL militants.
"Our Olive Branch border gate is ready. God willing, it will become operational next week," the trade minister, Ruhsar Pekcan, said.