Camp residents protest Turkish attempts to build ‘insulating wall’ inside Syria

A group of Turkish soldiers with construction equipment and tanks made an incursion just over the Syrian-Turkish border on Tuesday, intent on erecting an insulating wall in the northern Idlib countryside in order to keep militants from crossing the border.

“The pretext was to prevent infiltrators [from crossing into Turkey] and keep the chaos away from the Turkish borders because the Syrian side is not able to control them,” Sheikh Nayif al-Ali, president of the Shura Council in the adjacent Atama camp told Syria Direct.

Residents of the camp protested the Turkish incursion and the soldiers withdrew back across the border with their equipment, but not before promising to return and start construction soon, opposition media reported on Wednesday.

Some Atama camp residents, whose population totals approximately 60,000, say they are not planning on backing down.

“This wall will constrain refugees…and make it hard for them to work and live in these areas,” al-Ali said, adding that camp residents understand the need for Turkey to protect its borders, but they “will not allow Turkey to cut away any part of Syria’s land.”

Ankara began initial preparations to build an insulating wall along the Turkish-Syrian border several days ago, reported pro-opposition All4Syria on Wednesday.

The three-and-a-half meter wall will span more than 900km of the border between the two countries and will be outfitted with barbed-wire fencing, floodlights and surveillance cameras.

The portion of the fence that Turkey intends to build within Syrian territory near Atama will carve approximately 60 hectares (148 acres) out of Syria, reported All4Syria.

The plan to build part of the wall within Syrian territory appears to have been in the works for at least five months, says al-Ali, when he says the Turkish government first warned them that they “needed to vacate the area.”

Photo courtesy of Sheikh Nayif al-Ali.

Junior reporters:

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor. She left Syria at the beginning of the conflict.

Samuel Kieke

Samuel Kieke was a 2014-2015 CASA I fellow in Amman, Jordan. He received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Arabic Language and Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and International Relations and Global Studies.