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Turkey closes border with Syria

Thursday, July 26, 2012    

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ANTAKYA, Turkey (AFP) — Turkey indefinitely closed three border crossings yesterday to Turkish nationals trying to get into Syria, citing security concerns in the strife-torn neighbour, officials said.

"The crossings of Turkish citizens at Cilvegozu, Oncupinar et Karkamis have been... suspended because their security cannot be guaranteed on the other side," Turkish customs minister Hayati Yazici said at a news conference.

Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime seized control last week of three border posts opposite the Turkish crossings after clashes with Syrian forces.

Turkish trucks were burned and looted during the fighting at Bab al-Hawa, the Syrian post opposite Turkey's Cilvegozu crossing.

Commercial trucks from Syria and any other foreign country will also be barred in both directions but any foreign national trying to leave Syria will be allowed to do so, Yazici said.

A Turkish official told AFP that foreigners who want to cross the border into Syria would be required to sign a document that warns them about potential dangers there.

Turkey and Syria were once close political allies but Ankara has become a vocal critic of Assad and his regime since the launch of a brutal crackdown on dissent in March last year.

Turkey in November halted joint oil exploration with Syria and threatened to cut the electricity it supplies to the country's north.

The threat was renewed last month after Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet but yesterday, Ankara said it would maintain its power supply to Syria for now, saying people there needed it "now more than ever".

Syria and Turkey share a border stretching nearly 900 kilometres (560 miles).

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