Two New Turkey-Syria Crossings Opened

Syrians coming from Turkey go through the Bab al-Salame crossing in the border town of Azaz in the rebel-held north of the Aleppo province, on April 18, 2022, to spend the last days of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday early next month with family in Syria. (Photo by Rami al SAYED / AFP)

The UN announced Tuesday that Assad’s regime has agreed to open two additional crossings between Turkey and northwest Syria, to bring in humanitarian aid to those affected by the earthquake in the north of the country, despite the fact that Assad does not control any of the discussed Turkey-Syria crossings. This decision comes more than a week after the disaster that caused huge human and material losses in the beleaguered northern region, bringing the number of opposition-controlled crossings for the delivery of relief and aid to northern Syria to three.

UN Secretary-General Guterres said, “I welcome the decision of the Syrian President to open the Bab al-Salama and al-Rahi crossings between Turkey and northwestern Syria … which will be for a period of three months to deliver aid.”

The “decision” of the regime came only after members of the UN Security Council had previously announced they would open additional border crossings due to the Assad regime’s inaction. With plans to draft a resolution late this week.

Washington commented, “the Syrian regime’s agreement to open two new crossings is a good thing if Assad is serious.” While the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) offered a scathing criticism accusing the UN of, “waiting for the regime’s approval to open the borders as an excuse to justify its own failure.” As the global organization failed to use the previously approved Bab al-Hawa crossing nor the two functioning Bab al-Salama and al-Rahi crossings which remain under opposition, and not Assad control.

Turkey’s foreign minister Cavusoglu countered rumors circulating that these new crossings were facilitating a new influx of Syrian refugees from northern Syria to Turkey, “humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition-controlled areas is being delivered through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, and Turkey is ready to open two new border crossings from the Kilis region after the earthquake,” he further clarified, “these border crossings are intended only for humanitarian aid, and this does not mean that the Syrians are coming to Turkey through these crossings. Turkey facilitates humanitarian aid to the Syrians, but it will not allow a new influx of Syrian refugees, as these are two separate issues.”

The first batch of UN aid entered through the new crossings on Tuesday and Guterres noted that, “the death toll from the February 6 earthquake continues to rise.” According to the Syrian Civil Defense, the number of dead in the liberate north due to the earthquake has reached 2,274 with over 12,400 injured.

The Ministry of Health in Damascus has put the number of earthquake deaths in areas under their control at 1,414 deaths and 2,349 injuries, while the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) that the death toll from the earthquake disaster in southern Turkey has risen to 31,643 people, and 80,278 others have been injured. Early estimations put the number of combined deaths of earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey at over 36,000 deaths.

“It is extremely urgent to provide food, health and nutrition supplies, protection, shelter, winterization and other life-saving supplies to all the millions affected,” Guterres observed in his statement today, it’s hoped that these new steps and words result in more robust and impactful aid mechanisms for the nearly five million newly displaced, homeless and vulnerable people of Syria.


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