Located on the Syrian border of Turkey's southeastern province of Kilis, the Öncüpınar Border Gate has resumed operations and is now allowing direct transit.
Established in 1953, Öncüpınar had been closed to direct transit since 2011 because of the Syrian war.
Turkish trucks have been transferring their loads to vehicles with Syrian plates in a buffer zone designated by Tukish customs for eight years. Following the latest developments yesterday, trucks are now able to transit directly into Syrian territory after undergoing routine passport controls and customs procedures.
Media reports stated that 50 trucks directly passed over into Syrian territory in only a couple of hours after the decision was made.
Serdar Tohumcu, a truck driver carrying freight in the region, stated that they expect the direct transit practice to be sustainable. He highlighted that the direct transits have been a relief for the drivers and company owners.
"Before, when I entered from the Çobanbey Border Gate, I had an extra four-hour drive to Azaz. Thankfully, it now takes me 15 minutes to arrive where I am supposed to go," he explained.
The Çobanbey Border Gate is also located in Kilis, but it takes a lot more time and distance to arrive in some of the northern Syrian cities such as Azaz than it does from Öncüpınar, which is a shortcut to Syria.
According to the Trade Ministry, Turkey has seven official crossings with Syria along its 911-kilometer border with the country.
Nuri Kuş, another truck driver, stated that he has been unloading freight from his truck in the buffer zone on the Syrian border and transferring it to vehicles with Syrian plates for the last six years.
"We hope that peace will be re-established for good and people will get along and carry out trade on brotherly terms," Kuş concluded.
Olive Branch Gate to open next week
Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said yesterday that he Olive Branch Border Gate will start operating next week during her on-site examinations of the Cilvegözü Border Gate.
The Olive Branch Border Gate, named after Turkey's second operation, known as Operation Olive Branch, in northern Syria, which was launched in January 2018 to eliminate terror threats to the country's national security, has been built in the border province of Hatay.
Previous reports suggested that the new border gate opened to the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin and help speed up the delivery of humanitarian aid to the area. The gate was initially open on legal terms. After the completion of necessary processes in cooperation with the governor's office in Afrin, the Olive Branch border gate will start operating officially next week. The trucks that carry freight will be also allowed passage between the two sides.
Turkish authorities stepped up humanitarian support to civilians in the town of Afrin after it was liberated on March 18, 2018 by Turkish-backed forces as part of Operation Olive Branch.