x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Syria-Turkey border wall completed   

The partition was built to tighten security and combat illegal crossings and smuggling

A Syrian security officer mans a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jarablus, northern Syria, on the border with Turkey. Lefteris Pitarakis / AP
A Syrian security officer mans a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jarablus, northern Syria, on the border with Turkey. Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Turkey has completed the construction of a wall across its border with Syria, in a bid to tighten security and combat illegal crossings and smuggling.

The partition covers 764 of the 911 kilometres Turkey-Syria border. State-backed housing developer TOKI was tasked with constructing 564km, while the pertinent Turkish governorates - Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Sirnak - funded the remaining 200km.

The wall was envisioned three years ago to drive ISIS away from the border area and stop the advance of the Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been caught in a decades-old battle against Ankara.

__________

Read more:

Turkey prepares border camps in Syria for civilians fleeing assault on Kurdish militias

Turkey, Russia and Iran urge lasting Syria ceasefire

Turkish soldiers drive deeper into Kurdish Iraq

__________

The completion of the wall follows the announcement of the YPG's withdrawal from the Syrian city of Manbij, some 38km from the Turkish border, a day after Turkey and the US reached an agreement for administering the area that includes a longstanding Turkish demand that the YPG withdraw.

Turkey is also on the verge of completing the construction of a 144 kilometre wall along its border with Iran.

Meanwhile in north Iraq Ankara's ongoing cross-border military operation against the PKK has seen Turkish forces advance 30 km into Kurdish-controlled territory, despite protests from the central government in Baghdad.

We are "working to prevent infiltrators and terror activities there," Turkey's Prime Minister, Binali Yildrim, said on Saturday.

Mr Yildirm blames the PKK for "provocation, traps and attacks", warning that Ankara is set to continue its advances into Iraq.

"We will show no hesitation...until these elements are neutralised," Mr Yildrim said. Despite the frequent incursions, Baghdad has not retaliated against Turkey's advance.

Last Thursday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threats to strike the northern Iraqi regions of Qandil and Sinjar if the areas were not cleared of PKK fighters.

On Friday, Turkish warplanes struck PKK strongpoints and weapons depots in Iraq's PKK-stronghold Qandil.