The economic map in Afrin has witnessed critical changes, manifested by opening two internal crossings and a decision about initiating an external third one between Turkey and Syria, seeking to revive the area following the end of military action there.
The Turkish supported “Free Army” factions have opened two crossings in Afrin, on Saturday, March 31, to connect the area with Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo. The crossings, thus, have given the civilians a space to move and a route for commodities and fuel. Turkey, as well, decided to open the first customs’ point on its borders.
After they managed to seize six districts and to enter the city of Afrin on March 18, the “Free Army” and the Turkish forces have controlled all of Afrin area, on March 25, which was under the hegemony of the (Kurdish) “People’s Protection Units.”
The first internal crossing is located in the town of Deir Ballut facing the Atmeh area in Northern Idlib. The road leading to the crossing starts from the city of Azaz to the north of Aleppo, passing through the town of Kafr Janneh and the city of Afrin to reach the city of Jindires in the southwestern part.
The second internal crossing is located in the town of al-A’zawia; its route moves in the direction of Darat Izza in the western countryside f Aleppo, starting from Azaz and passing through the city of Afrin, after which it reaches to Bassouta, Al-Ghazzawiyya, Deir Samaan and finally the city of Darat Izza. According to Enab Baladi’s reporter in rural Idlib, a row of Mazut Cars has entered through it on Saturday.
In the past a few days, the prices of fuel in Idlib and its countryside have decreased, after opening the Deir Ballut crossing for a short time; this attributed to the fall of the Mazot liter’s price from 600 to 240 Syrian pounds, due to the passage of fuel trucks from the city of Azaz in Northern Aleppo to Idlib through Afrin.
Activists said that the price of Mazot barrel has decreased from 120 to 60 thousand Syrian pounds, after a number of fuel tanks have entered through Deir Ballut’s crossing in rural Aleppo to Atmeh. The fuel tanks’ driver obtains a passage permit document from Azaz that allows him to move within all the areas that have been controlled by the “Olive Branch” operation without paying any fee, according to a statement by “Sham Legion”.
The First Customs Point between Turkey and Syria
Turkey has decided to open the first customs crossing at is borders with Afrin area, after the Turkish Cabinet has indorsed the opening of a gate between Hatay Province and the area, according to reports by Turkish media outlets on Wednesday, 28 March.
The decision has been made during a meeting at the headquarters of the Turkish Cabinet, which provided for opening a customs’ gate between Hatay Province and Afrin, to be positioned in the border town of Hamam that administratively follows Kumlu to the east of the Turkish province and is about ten kilometers a way from the town and the center of Jindires district. The Cabinet has assigned the mission to Hatay Province’s mayor.
Ankara stated that opening the custom’s gate aims to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery and building the area; on the long run, the gate also seeks to reestablish a system within the area and to enhance stability “in a short period,” that has not been decided yet.
The Syrian borders are connected with the Turkish ones through about ten border crossings, three of which are partially active ــــ “Bab al-Hawa” Crossing in the northern countryside of Idlib, “Bab al-Salameh”, near Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo, “Jarabulus” in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, in addition to the “al-Rai” crossing, which the Syrian Interim Government has announced opening before merchants and civilians late in 2017.
Afrin area awaits the regularization of its affairs and the implementation of the “Save Afrin” conference’s recommendations, which the Turkish city of Gaziantep has incubated on Sunday, March 18. The conference resulted in a number of provisions, on top of which is the need to form a civil council to run the city.
The people expect that Turkey will approach their area the way it did in the northern countryside of Aleppo, referring to the Turkish President’s, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, statement after controlling Afrin that Turkey does not intend to stay in Afrin, rather “it will undertake steps to initiate the area and revive it once more through reconstructing both base and superstructure.”