Syria-Turkey Border Crossing to Reopen This Week, Officials Say

By RUDAW – 1.1.22013 – QAMISHLI—Syrian and Turkish authorities are expected to reopen the Nusaybin border crossing this week, officials have told Rudaw.

“The closure affected us on both sides of the border,” says Sheikhmus Ali, a resident of the Kurdish city of Qamishli. “People have used the border for trade, for bringing in medicine. We rely on the border.”

Official sources told Rudaw that Syrian and Turkish authorities have been in negotiations in the past two months about reopening the border that was closed due to fighting between Syrian and rebel forces in the past two years. As part of the negotiations, the governor of Hasakah visited Qamishli last week and he has talked to the mayor of Nusaybin, Ayse Gokkan, on the same issue.

Younis Abdi Aziz, a political analyst in Qamishli says that the closure of the border during the fighting had harmed the local residents and helped smugglers. “When the border was closed we on both sides of the border suffered,” he said. “People had no choice but to cross the border illegally. Some smugglers would charge more than 20,000 liras to carry someone across.” The mayor of Nusaybin, Gokkan, staged a hunger strike last month to protest the building of a wall by the Turkish government to prevent a possible spillover of the Syrian conflict into its territories. She said it was an attempt to divide the Kurds on both sides of the border.

There are three important border points in the Kurdish areas of Syria.

Tel Kocer that was seized in October by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) after weeks of fierce fighting with jihadist groups, and Simelke, are controlled by the Kurds under the Democratic Union Party (PYD).    However, the Nusaybin crossing is still under the Syrian government and its location in the oil-rich province of Hasakah makes it vital for the economy of the region. “We hope this border opens soon so that our people can cross to the other side, take their patients to hospital, bring medicine. Otherwise it is all very difficult at the moment,” said Mustafa Mashayikh, head of the Unity Party in Qamishli.

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