Turkey opens new border gate crossing to northern Syria

TOPSHOT - A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters hold Turkish national flag (R) and Free Syrian Army flags (L) at a checkpoint in the Syrian town of Azaz on a road leading to Afrin, on February 1, 2018. Clashes raged between Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin region on January 31, 2018, as wounded civilians fled intense Turkish air strikes. Turkey and allied Syrian rebels have pressed on with Operation Olive Branch in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin enclave despite mounting international concern and reports of rising civilian casualties. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkey has opened a new border gate crossing to the northern Syrian region of Afrin, Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan announced on Friday.

Pekcan said the customs gate was named “Olive Branch” after Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Afrin early this year.

The Turkish trade officer previously said the gate will speed up the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afrin and meet the infrastructure needs of the region.

Turkey has 10 land and three rail customs gates with Syria, but only one rail and four land ones are operational as of this month, local media Daily Sabah reported.

On Jan. 20, Turkish army launched cross-border operation in Afrin to clear Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from the area.

Turkey considers the YPG as the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).