Syria’s interim government has accused the border administration of the Bab as-Salamah crossing, which is controlled by the Levant Front rebel alliance, of preventing the entry of its officials to Syrian territory.
The administration justified the act as a measure to ensure the safety of officials, adding that complications also emerged due to a lack of coordination between the two parties regarding the date of entry.
Interim government sources said the aim of the visit was to hold a press conference for the entire cabinet in front of the headquarters of the Council of Aleppo, showing the world that an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad is ready.
Government sources pointed out that the visit came after statements by Turkish officials, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, about the establishment of the buffer zone, in conjunction with the arrival of a number of US aircrafts to Incirlik airbase in Turkey.
Head of the Levant Front’s political bureau, Abdullah Osman, said there was no decision to ban the entry of members of the Syrian government to Syria, pointing out that the ban was due to the lack of coordination between the government officials and the political bureau, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the protection of the visiting delegation.
Osman noted that the government delegation told some members of the Front about their entry into Syria, where a representative requested they coordinate with the Front’s political bureau. But the delegation arrived at the crossing without any arrangements for protection.
Osman added that border crossing officials were surprised to see 30 armed and masked men at the gate of the crossing. When asked about their identities, the militants said they were from the Levant Front and had come to protect the delegation. After communicating with the Front’s officials, they denied any knowledge of the presence of a government delegation, or sending gunmen to protect it.
The Front justified the prevention of the government delegation’s entry to the Syrian territories, saying: "They charged us with handing over Brigade 30 to Nusra Front, they came without our knowledge, how would we allow the entry of a delegation of this size without finding the necessary arrangements to protect them, because if anything happened to the delegation members, we would bear responsibility."
This is the first time the administration has prevented officials from the political opposition from entering the Syrian territories, as former ministers and members of the Coalition have previously entered Syria through the same crossing.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.