Turkey declares “special security zone” status along Syrian border

The Gaziantep Governorship Office has declared a 15 days “special security zone” status in 48 separate areas near the border with Syria.

Starting as of January 1, the status aims “to support the security situation at the Syrian border and also to protect lives and properties of Turkish citizens from possible threats and dangers,” according to a statement by the office.

With the precautionary action, all kinds of controls on vehicles and individuals entering or exiting the regions, together with all possible necessary security measures, would be carried out by the Gaziantep Provincial Gendarmerie Command and the Gaziantep Provincial Security Directorate.

A similar move had come on Friday by the Governor’s Office of Hakkari, Turkey’s another southeastern province, imposing bans on entrances to the areas without permission.

The authority in Hakkari also banned public demonstrations, including assemblies, rallies, protest marches, sit-ins, hunger strikes, press releases, concerts, festivals, lighting torches, distributing of leaflets, and setting up tents and booths in the province for 15 days.

The Hakkari Office cited “national security, public order, prevention of crimes, protection of rights and securities of others, prevention of possible provocations and public incidents” as the motives behind the bans.

Turkey launched a military operation in northeastern Syria on October 9, with a stated aim to clear the border area off the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to form a “safe zone” to resettle refugees.

Ankara deems the YPG an offshoot of the Kurdish separatists known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has waged an armed insurgency in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey for decades. Hence, Turkish authorities designate the YPG as a terrorist organization.

Right before the country’s incursion into Northeastern Syria at the time, Turkey’s authorities had taken similar precautions in the southeastern part of the country.

Being an important center of commerce, industry, arts, and culture, Gaziantep is Turkey’s sixth-most populous city.

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