Turkey tightens border control to Syria's Idlib province amid unrest

ISTANBUL (dpa)- Turkey is tightening control over the border crossing to Idlib province in north Syria, the customs minister said on Thursday, after jihadists took control of key areas recently, amid infighting among rebel factions.
Idlib is the only province in Syria effectively under full rebel control, after President Bashar al-Assad's forces were ousted in 2015. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group linked to al-Qaeda, has taken control over much of northern Idlib on the Turkish border.

"Therefore, we have such a problem here. I presume it will take ten to fifteen days for it to improve," Customs Minister Bulent Tufenkci said, according to broadcaster NTV.
He said humanitarian aid would not be affected but other goods were be placed under tight control until the jihadist group's grip on the crossing is weakened.
HTS has slowly seized areas in Idlib from other factions, including a rival Islamist group called Ahrar al-Sham, once a partner in control over the area.
Analysts have repeatedly warned that the HTS takeover will likely make life in Idlib, already precarious, much worse for more than 1 million civilians.
HTS is comprised largely of al-Nusra Front members. The United States has indicated that it sees the new formation as an al-Qaeda-linked group and that its control over Idlib could invite military action.

Thursday, August 10th 2017

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