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Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing

Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing
Bab El Hawa Border.jpg
Passport Control Building in 2006
Coordinates36°13′50.3″N 36°41′33.5″E / 36.230639°N 36.692639°E / 36.230639; 36.692639
CarriesCommercial goods, vehicles
CrossesBorder between Turkey and Syria
LocaleTurkey Cilvegözü, Turkey
Syria Bab al-Hawa, Syria
Official nameBab al-Hawa Border Crossing
معبر باب الهوى

The Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing (Arabic: معبر باب الهوى‎, "Gate of the Winds"[1]) is an international border crossing between Syria and Turkey. It is situated on the M45 Syrian Highway and D827 Turkish Highway between the cities of İskenderun and Aleppo, and is known for its long lines of trucks and buses.[2] The closest town on the Turkish side of the border is Reyhanlı in the Hatay Province, and the closest towns on the Syrian side are ad-Dana and Atarib. The crossing is the site of a 6th-century triumphal arch.[1][3]


There is a monumental Roman archway in Bab al-Hawa that was part of a city wall.[4][5] There is a further complex of Byzantine architecture near the archway that has been largely destroyed and re-used in border construction. It features a church and another large rectangular building.[6]

Syrian Civil War

In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, it was a frequent place of crossing for Syrians trying to reach the refugee camp in nearby Reyhanlı.[7] Drivers complained in December 2011 that they had been stalled at the crossing for days after customs officials stopped allowing vehicles with Turkish registrations to enter Syria.[8] The crossing is a major route for smuggling, particularly oil and gas, and during the conflict has seen a dramatic rise in weapons smuggling.[9] On 19 July 2012, Syrian rebels from the Free Syrian Army seized the border and defaced images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[10][11][12][13] On 22 July 2012, Turkish armed forces further restricted border crossings of their own nationals.[14]

In September 2012 foreign jihadists raised the black flag of al-Qaeda at the border post, leading to a confrontation with the Free Syrian Army.[15][16] On February 11, 2013, a car bomb in a Syrian-registered minivan was detonated on the Turkish side of the crossing meters from the Cilvegözü customs office.[17] Thirteen people—including 3 Turkish civilians—were killed, while 28 others were wounded and 19 vehicles were damaged.[18] The Turkish government labeled the bombing a terrorist act,[18] and said that Turkey's interior, justice and customs ministers would visit the area to help the investigation.[17]

On 7 December 2013, the Islamic Front took the crossing from the Free Syrian Army,[19][20] and as of July 2014, they were manning the Syrian side with members of the Salafist militia Ahrar ash-Sham.[21] Ahrar a-Sham maintained control when the Islamic Front dissolved in 2015, but established a civilian administration for the border crossing in April 2015.[20]

On 23 July 2017, hundreds of Ahrar al-Sham fighters withdrew with their equipment from the crossing and retreated to Turkey after the al-Qaeda-affiliated Tahrir al-Sham defeated Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib.[22] As a result, the crossing was largely closed by Turkey, with the exception of exports of humanitarian aid and food from Turkey.[23] On 26 July 26, HTS and Ahrar al-Sham reached an agreement that they would hand over the crossing to a civilian administration so that the flow of humanitarian aid could resume. However, HTS retained control of the towns, villages and roads around it, leaving them in a decisive position. The crossing re-opened on 18 October. In November 2017, civil officials operating the crossing reported that all revenue generated (estimated at $25 million a year in late 2016) goes to the local civil administration.[20]


  1. ^ a b "Photographs C_042 Album C 1905 - Syria, Turkey". Gertrude Bell Archive. Newcastle University.
  2. ^ "Getting there & away". Lonely Planet. 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Bab al-Hawa Archeological Site, Bridge between Syria and Turkey". SANA. 9 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Warwick Ball (16 January 2001). Rome in the East. Taylor & Francis. pp. 213–. ISBN 978-0-415-24357-5. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  5. ^ Terry Carter; Lara Dunston; Amelia Thomas (1 July 2008). Syria and Lebanon. Lonely Planet. pp. 127–. ISBN 978-1-74104-609-0. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  6. ^ John F. Haldon (30 September 2010). Money, Power and Politics in Early Islamic Syria: A Review of Current Debates. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-0-7546-6849-7. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  7. ^ McDonnell, Patrick (15 July 2012). "Syria rebels seek weapons, money on Turkish border". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  8. ^ Champion, Marc (8 December 2011). "Tension Rises at Turkey-Syria Border". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  9. ^ "Syria: Demonstrations to Celebrate National Independence Day of Syria". DayPress. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Syria conflict: Rebels seize Turkey, Iraq border posts". BBC News. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  11. ^ Levs, Josh; Gast, Phil (19 July 2012). "Syria shows al-Assad, amid speculation on his whereabouts". CNN. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  12. ^ Fulya Ozerkan (22 July 2012). "Turkish truck drivers accuse Syrian rebel fighters of looting". Your Middle East. AFP.
  13. ^ "Syrian army regains control of Bab al-Hawa". PressTV. 28 July 2012. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Turkey restricts border crossings with Syria". Al Jazeera English. 22 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  15. ^ Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (23 September 2012). "Syria: the foreign fighters joining the war against Bashar al-Assad". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Amos, Deborah (19 September 2012). "Syrian Rebels Fear Radicals May Hijack Revolt". NPR. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Syria crisis: 'Powerful' minibus explosion kills 13". BBC News. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  18. ^ a b Saad, Hwaida; Gladstone, Rick (11 February 2013). "Syrian Insurgents Claim to Control Large Hydropower Dam". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  19. ^ Dziadosz, Alexander; Afanasieva, Dasha (7 December 2013). "Syrian Islamists seize Western-backed rebel bases: monitoring group". Reuters. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  20. ^ a b c "The border crossings of Syria's northwest". Syria Direct. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Rebel infighting closes Bab al-Hawa crossing". The Daily Star. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  22. ^ Suleiman Al-Khalidi (24 July 2017). "Jihadist group cements control of Syria's Idlib province: rebels". Reuters.
  23. ^ Abed Kontar (10 August 2017). "Turkey limits border traffic at Syria crossing: customs minister". Reuters.

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