March 5, 2019 / 12:27 PM / 3 months ago

Turkey to open border gate with Syria's Afrin next week: minister

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the city of Afrin, Syria March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

ANKARA (Reuters) - A border gate between Turkey and northern Syria’s Afrin region is ready and will be opened next week, Turkey’s Trade Minister was quoted by state media as saying on Tuesday, advancing a project aimed at speeding up aid and equipment flows.

The border crossing is dubbed “Olive Branch”, named after Turkey’s military operation last year when it drove out of Afrin Syrian Kurdish forces which it considers terrorists, linked to Kurdish militants waging an insurgency on its own soil.

“Our Olive Branch border gate is ready. God willing, it will become operational next week,” the trade minister, Ruhsar Pekcan, was cited by state-run Anadolu news agency as saying.

Pekcan said in November that the Olive Branch border gate had been opened. It was not immediately clear if her comments on Tuesday referred to an additional gate or the reopening of the same one.

The Afrin operation was the Turkish military’s second offensive into northern Syria. In the first operation, dubbed “Euphrates Shield”, it drove Islamic State militants from territory along the border in 2016.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler, Editing by William Maclean

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