Extra measures to be taken for national security on Syrian border

ERALP YARAR
ISTANBUL
Published 06.07.2019 00:23

New measures are planned to be taken by Turkey to tighten border security for combating smuggling and illegal border crossings from Syria.

The planned extra measures include the installation of wire fences and razor wire barriers in addition to concrete security walls constructed before.

"Border security is an issue based on a very complex structure where different elements complete each other," said Mete Yarar, an expert on security policy and a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Yarar stated that walls aims to prevent shootings targeting Turkish soldiers from the other side of the border and the improvement of control and patrol units in the area in addition to combating illegal border crossings.

Talking about the planned measure of installing wire fences and razor wire barriers, Yarar said that it would prevent illegal crossings and infiltration from the border. He also added that they are already present in the existing structure of the walls but the new plan is to increase its height and amount.

Turkey last year constructed a concrete wall on the border with Syria, in order to establish security in the region.

Ankara had launched the construction project in 2015 to build an 826-kilometer wall on the Syrian border, as part of Turkey's measures to increase border security and combat smuggling and illegal border crossings, particularly from the conflict zones in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

Furthermore, the presence of the PKK terrorist group also prompted the need to erect the wall against the possibility of crossings by the PKK terrorists.

Underlining that the Syrian border is a very critical area, Yarar said that since the construction of border walls, illegal crossings have sharply decreased. He added that observation towers were also installed as observation and fire support are two measures that support each other.

Turkey shares a 911-kilometer border with Syria, which has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011.

The wall was sealed along Turkey's border provinces of Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Şırnak. The border wall project incorporates physical, electronic and advanced technology layers.

The physical layer includes modular concrete walls, patrol routes, manned and unmanned towers and passenger tracks.

Modular walls are being erected along the Turkish-Syrian borderline with 7-ton mobile blocks, 2-meters wide and 3-meters high. The blocks have also been topped with 1-meter-high razor wire.

An electronic layer consisting of close-up surveillance systems, thermal cameras, land surveillance radar, remote-controlled weapons systems, command and control centers, line-length imaging systems and seismic and acoustic sensors is also built into the wall.

Despite all these measures taken, Yarar underlined that Turkey is the only side that has put in effort to provide border security. Other sides of the borders, namely Syria and Iraq, have not shown such commitment.

"Double cross-border operations conducted by Turkey established security in some areas near borders. However, other parts of the border are very fragile against illegal crossings and infiltrations. Because Turkey is the only side that tries to protect borders," said Yarar.

Turkey carried out two cross-border operations west of the Euphrates River, Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in January 2018, to drive terrorist groups, including the YPG and Daesh, from its borders. While the country liberated the northwestern territories from Daesh, it also prevented the YPG from establishing a de facto autonomous region in Syria connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast, which Ankara describes as a "terror corridor" posing a grave security threat to its national security.

Turkey aims to drain the terror swamp near its border, protect Syria's territorial integrity and ensure political stability with a possible operation east of the Euphrates River to eliminate YPG terrorism.

Turkey had long signaled a possible operation in areas held by the YPG east of the Euphrates. However, the government decided to postpone the operation for a while after U.S. President Donald Trump decided that Washington, the main backer of the terrorist group, would withdraw its troops from Syria.

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