AANES condemns KDP’s unilateral closure of Semalka border crossing

AANES is appalled by the "unilateral" and "inhumane" closure of the Semalka border crossing, the only lifeline for millions of people in a region ravaged by embargo, occupation and war.

The Semalka (Faysh Khabur, Kr: Pêşxabûr) border crossing is located between the town of Pêşxabûr on the east bank of the Tigris in Duhok province on the side of southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) and the town of Semalka in Dêrik on the side of western Kurdistan (northern Syria). It is currently the only way to get into North-East Syria, but also to get out and bring medicine and humanitarian aid supplies into the region. Only aid organisations and NGOs active in northern and eastern Syria were informed of the closure of the border crossing by Southern Kurdistan’s border control authority. However, no reason was given.

The border has been closed since Thursday, and there is still no official justification or announcement from the authorities. The closure of the crossing could cause a disaster and further complicate the humanitarian situation in the region.

In a statement against the closure of the Semalka border crossing by the KDP-dominated government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) said: “In view of the ongoing embargo, threats from Turkey and allied jihadist militias, as well as the danger posed by sleeper cells of ISIS, we are appalled by the closure of the only border crossing into the north-eastern Syrian autonomous government.”

Defining the move as "unilateral" and "inhumane", AANES stated: "We are concerned and appalled by the closure of the border crossing point at Sêmalka, as until recently it was the only open gateway into our regions. Sêmalka is the lifeline for millions of people who depend on the delivery of humanitarian supplies and medicines in a region ravaged by embargo, occupation and war.”

AANES warned that the unilateral blockade of the crossing would be used as a means of political blackmail against the administration and reprisal against the people and urged its immediate reopening. "We hope that common sense will prevail, and that the lifeline of our regions will never be used as a means of pressure.”

It is not the first time that the Semalka border crossing has been closed by the KRI authorities. Time and again, the important crossing point is closed by order of the KRI government, which is dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The last prolonged closure took place in the winter of 2021/2022. For about six weeks, the border crossing remained completely closed to all traffic. Previously, the KDP had closed the gate between South and West Kurdistan several times on Turkish orders. With such blockades, the Turkish state is trying to isolate Rojava and destabilise the self-governed areas. It is also suspected that the border was closed at the insistence of the government in Ankara.