Türkiye Closes Syria Border Amid Unrest

Türkiye Closes Syria Border Amid Unrest
Türkiye Closes Syria Border Amid Unrest

Türkiye closed its main border crossings into northwest Syria after Turkish troops came under fire from Syrians angered by violence against their compatriots in Türkiye, a Syrian opposition source and residents said.

In Türkiye, police detained 474 people involved in attacks targeting the Syrian community across the country overnight, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said, in spreading unrest that began late on Sunday.

Properties and vehicles owned by Syrians were vandalized and set on fire in the central city of Kayseri, stoked by social media reports that a Syrian man had sexually abused a female child relative.

The violence spread to the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep, Konya, Bursa and an Istanbul district, Türkiye's MIT intelligence agency said in a statement. There were social media reports of some injuries among Syrians.

Subsequently, hundreds of angry Syrians took to the streets in several towns in the rebel-held northwest Syria, an area where Türkiye maintains thousands of troops and has carved out a sphere of influence that has stopped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from regaining control.

Türkiye responded to the unrest by closing until further notice the Bab al Hawa border crossing, a main trade and passenger conduit for more than 3 million inhabitants, along with Bab al Salam and other smaller crossings, a border official said.

The Syrian border city of Afrin was the scene of the most violent clashes, with at least four people killed in an exchange of fire between armed protesters and Turkish troops.

In a speech, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan blamed the "chaos plan" on groups associated with terrorist organizations, and vowed to reveal the "dirty hands" behind the recent incidents.

Erdogan said more than 670,000 people have returned to areas in northern Syria, where Türkiye has been operating to create safe zones over the past decade.Türkiye severed ties with Syria after the 2011 Syrian civil war and supported rebels looking to oust Assad.