Turkey to open Hatay border crossing for Eid al-Fitr

DAILY SABAH WITH DHA
ISTANBUL
Published 22.06.2016 00:20
Updated 22.06.2016 00:25
Turkey to open Hatay border crossing for Eid al-Fitr

Turkey's tightly sealed border with war-torn Syria will be opened for Syrians in Turkey, allowing them to spend the upcoming Muslim festival Eid al-Fitr at home, the Doğan News Agency reported.

The border opening will be restricted to Cilvegözü, a border crossing in the southern city of Hatay located across from the Bab al-Hawa crossing in Syria's Aleppo. Cilvegözü has been closed to crossings from Syria ever since the conflict happening internally in Turkey's southern neighbor escalated in recent years. With the exception of merchants and the injured, no one is allowed into Turkey from the Syrian side of the border, although Syrians desiring to return home are allowed to cross into Syria.

Syrian nationals with a valid passport who have registered with a state-run agency for refugees will sign off with authorities before leaving. The border will open on June 30 and will close at 5 p.m. on July 5, the first day of the three-day Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of fasting month of Ramadan for Muslims. Syrians who have signed up with the authorities before leaving will have 15 days to return to Turkey and those who are past the deadline will have their re-entry into Turkey barred.

Border crossings are occasionally opened with Syria to allow citizens of the war-torn country to return home. Last year, 13,000 Syrians traveled home during Eid al-Fitr and another 28,000 traveled to Syria on Kurban Bayramı (Feast of Sacrifice), another major Islamic holiday. Turkey, which shares a lengthy border with Syria, hosts more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees, the largest among countries in the region that take refugees. It remains a safe haven for thousands of displaced Syrians; although the constant threat of violence spilling over the border forces Ankara to keep the crossings closed. Turkey is a staunch advocate of the establishment of a "safe zone" inside Syria for the displaced, which would prevent them leaving to other countries. The Cilvegözü border crossing was the scene of a car bombing in 2013 that killed 13 people.

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