Saturday, October 1, 2022

Iraq-Syria border crossing worries aid groups, closure of travelers

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A key border between Iraq’s Kurdistan region and Syria’s northeast has been closed a week after violent clashes between supporters of a major Syrian Kurdish party and border guards along the Iraqi border.

On 15 December, the de facto ruling party in northeastern Syria, affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), clashed with security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) near the Fiskhbor-Semalka border crossing. The incident prompted Iraqi Kurdish authorities to close the border point indefinitely.

In addition to halting the movement of passengers, the border closure has disrupted the transport of goods in northeastern Syria, prompting fears that it could lead to a shortage of basic supplies in Syria. It is the only outlet across the border that connects northeastern Syria to the world.

‘significant impact’

According to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), several shipments of essential supplies are stuck at the border.

“The Fiskhbor-Semalka border crossing threatens to have a significant impact on the humanitarian operation in northeastern Syria, which is helping 1.8 million people,” the ECHO said in a statement on Wednesday.

The aid organization said it would “continue to advocate for humanitarian exemptions to allow the sending of life-saving items to Syria and to facilitate the movement of international aid workers in and out of Syria.”

The KRG said it would make another border crossing with Syria on Thursday to allow international aid workers to leave Syria.

FILE - The Fiskhbor-Semalka border crossing opened in 2013 primarily for the entry of humanitarian aid into war-torn Syria, June 19, 2021.  (Sarwan Kajo / VOA)

FILE – The Fiskhbor-Semalka border crossing opened in 2013 primarily for the entry of humanitarian aid into war-torn Syria, June 19, 2021. (Sarwan Kajo / VOA)

Syrian Kurdish officials said they had not been formally informed of the decision by their counterparts on the Iraqi side to cross the Fiskhbor-Semalka border or the KRG border crossing, saying it would open on Thursday.

“They haven’t reached out to us formally about this shutdown,” Rodi Amin, head of the cross-border bureau in the autonomous administration in north and eastern Syria, told VOA. “The border is open from our side, and we hope that [the KRG] Will open crossings for all, not just international [nongovernmental organizations] staff.”

Amin said hundreds of Syrian Kurds holding European passports were also stranded in northeastern Syria due to the closure.

A KRG spokesperson did not respond to a VOA request for comment.

other endings

Since its opening in 2013, the Fishkhbor-Semalka border crossing on the Tigris River has been closed several times, often due to political disputes between the two sides.

Last week’s border clashes, which reportedly injured six Iraqi Kurdish guards, came after Syrian Kurdish protesters demanded the KRG hand over the bodies of four Syrian Kurdish fighters killed in a recent Turkish strike in northern Iraq . Some Iraq-based Kurdish fighters affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are Syrian nationals.

Iraqi Kurdish officials said they had no information about the slain fighters, according to the Irbil-based Rudaw news network.

Analysts said the politicization of the border issue only harms civilians in war-torn Syria.

“The two sides should resolve their differences through diplomatic channels,” said Zara Saleh, a Kurdish political analyst in London.

“This cross-border essentially provides a lifeline to people on the Syrian side who have suffered from a decade of conflict, so it should never be exploited for political gains, morally,” he told VOA.

Rudaw TV reported on Tuesday that the KRG said it would not open the crossing until Syrian Kurdish authorities gave a guarantee that such attacks would not happen in the future.

VOA’s Zana Omar contributed to this report from Kamishli, Syria. This story originated in VOA’s Kurdish service.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.]

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