The military factions controlling northern Syria, whether in Idleb or rural Aleppo, are preparing to open crossings with Assad-controlled areas. This move may be the first sign of “opening relations” between Turkey, which oversees the north and the regime, according to the pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan.
The first of which was the opening of the National Army crossing, Abu al-Zandin, in the vicinity of the city of al-Bab east of Aleppo. It opened for only two hours, and two trucks entered before it was closed again.
Hours later, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s (HTS) survey and engineering teams began equipping the Tarnaba crossing between the outskirts of the town of Sarmin and Saraqeb, which is under the control of Assad’s forces.
Sources in Idleb told Al-Souriya Net that “HTS intensified its security presence at the site, and surrounded the place with a military checkpoint, to prevent the access of residents and media personnel to the site.”
This is not the first attempt to open crossings between northwestern Syria and regime-controlled areas, as Tahrir al-Sham tried to open a crossing with Assad’s forces near the town of Ma’arat al-Na’asan in April 2020, but the move saw protests at the time and later faltered.
This comes at a time when Turkey’s relations with the Assad regime are witnessing negotiations that could lead to normalization of relations between the two sides, if the ongoing intelligence meetings lead to understanding.
Reports confirmed last week that the head of Turkey’s intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, had held several meetings with his Syrian counterpart, Ali Mamlouk, over the past few weeks in Damascus.
These meetings, which have not been denied by the Syrian regime or the Turkish authorities, are a new step in this path called for by Moscow.
The pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan, in a report last Thursday, considered the opening of crossings between the regions “one of the main topics on the table of Syrian-Turkish security and military negotiations currently under way.”
The newspaper predicted that “solutions and understandings” regarding the crossings will be reached within the next two to three months, at the latest, after closing them to the passage of civilians and goods for years. It noted that Russia insists on opening these crossings. It also considered in another report on Sunday, that “economic normalization through the opening of crossings may be the most important approach of Turkey to the Syrian issue and a fundamental and necessary guide to the Turkish rotation surrounding the Syrian leadership in the near future.”
It said that the move to open the crossings came in exchange for the regime’s opening of a “reconciliation” center in the city of Khan Sheikhoun, to “settle” the situation of the people of the area residing in opposition areas.
As the crossings were prepared for opening, talk returned about who would benefit the most.
Osama al-Qadi, economic adviser and head of the Syrian Economic Working Group, said that the opening of crossings with regime areas may not benefit the northern Syrian areas in general if they are not “within the arrangement and supervision of a civilian government.”
The benefit, in the absence of a “civilian government,” “is for the faction controlling the crossings or to distribute customs or crossing fees to armed groups,” he said.
Qadi said that the crossings are supposed to be under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance of the Syrian Interim Government, which must be a real government that is genuinely empowered, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, then the revenues of the crossings can return to northern Syria and not only to the faction protecting the crossing.
He considered that opening any markets between regions would benefit agricultural and industrial activity in the north, despite its small size, because this would open larger markets.
He pointed out that the regime’s areas will also benefit from the opening of the crossings because it will bring agricultural and semi-finished materials from the north, and there will be a greater supply of goods and services. This is if no one controls those goods and their price, and there is no corruption.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.