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Picture of the Syrian - Turkish Border. Taken on Google Earth for a realistic "3D" view.

The border between Syria and Turkey spans 400 kilometers in length across the upper Mesopotamia. Turkey is geographically both in Asia and Europe, this is because of the Turkish city, Istanbul, which is located to the north-west in Turkey and south-east in Europe. Because of Turkey's membership in both NATO and OSCE, its border to Syria also acts as a barrier for these organisations. Since the Syrian Civil War started in 2011, there has been many clashes while the tension across the border has increased.  Turkey has also seen a big influx of refugees crossing the border to Turkey.

History and context Edit

Hatay Edit

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Picture of the Hatay Province. The grey lines signify the border of the province.

When Hatay became independent from the French mandate of Syria in 1938, the Syrian government was everything but pleased. But tension especially increased after the republic of Hatay joined Syria as the province of Hatay 8 months later in 1939. Though the Syrian government gave up claims to this province, this event worsened the already bad relations between Turkey and Syria.

Syrian support of the PKK Edit

Turkey has denounced Syria for supporting the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The PKK is listed as a terrorist group internationally by many powerful states and organisations, which include the USA, NATO and the EU.

Syrian sheltering Edit

Alois Brunner Edit

The USA, NATO and the EU has also claimed that the Syrian government employed Alois Brunner, which was described in The Guardian as "the world's highest-ranking Nazi fugitive believed still alive." Brunner was last reported to be living in 2001 in Syria, to train Kurdish militants for attacks on Turkey.

Abdullah Öcalan Edit

Turkey threatened military action if Syria continued to shelter Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK. Since Syria expelled Öcalan by in 1998, and promised to stop protecting and aiding PKK militants, relations between the two nations have greatly improved.

Friction due to the Syrian civil war Edit

Ties between Syria and Turkey have greatly deteriorated since the Syrian Civil War. The civil war has impacted Turkey, as they have had to protect and aid thousands of refugees fleeing Syria due to crackdowns by the Syrian Army. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has previously described his feelings to Syria as: “They are not acting in a humane manner. This is savagery”. However, Turkey is currently refraining from describing the fleeing Syrians as “refugees”, but has chosen to refer to them as "guests". There are now over 1,7 million Syrian “guests” in Turkey, and Turkey has now estimated that the cost of these “guests” are over 1,5 billion $.

Push & Pull factors Edit

Syrian civil war Edit

An Aerial View of the Za'atri Refugee Camp

An aerial view of the Za'atri refugee camp in Turkey.

The unrest began in the early spring of 2011, as the Arab Spring protests began. Nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad's government started, and his forces responded with violent crackdowns. The conflict gradually evolved from non-violent protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges by the government. The civil war is having a serious strain on both Syria and Turkey. Both the Syrian government and it's people are standing on shaking ground. Many seek refuge in Turkey, which is both a safe haven and a gateway into the EU, NATO, and other organisations within Europe. The huge border between the two countries also makes it easier to immigrate and seek help.

Security Edit

Turkey-Syrian-Refugee Webf

One of the many border crossings between Turkey and Syria

Turkey has kept an open-border policy while Syria's three-year civil war has been ongoing and has vowed to maintain it. This providing a lifeline to rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad by allowing supplies into the country and and refugees out of the country. But this policy is having its costs. Illegal smuggling is thriving, and a growing number of illegal immigrants are also crossing. This has compounded the challenge of securing the huge border for Turkey's authorities, already accused of doing too little to stop foreign jihadists from entering Syria, although claims of this nature are highly controversial.


Wall erected on Turkish-Syrian border to prevent smuggling.

Many walls have been built, though the effect of these are more the less negligible as most of these walls only span 10 km with a border measuring more than 900 km.

Conflicts Edit

Bombings Edit

As stated earlier, in the context of security, walls have been built on the border between Syria and Turkey. Many of these walls were built as a response to car bombings and other terrorist actions, mostly committed by Syrian jihadists trying to hurt both the pride of Turkey and the fleeing Syrians who are sheltered inside Turkey near the border.


Aftermath of an car bomb set off in the Karaj Sajou area, near the Bab al-Salam crossing.

Bombings have happened on several occasions, and often leaves dozens killed, and many more injured. "A car bomb killed at least 43 civilians and wounded dozens on the Syrian side of the Bab al-Salama border crossing with Turkey on Thursday.... The area around the crossing has been targeted by car bombs before." - 15.05.2014

Sources: Edit

Syria Turkey relations

Syria Turkey Border

Article on the matter

Data from UNHCR