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Turkey's Syria borders an open door for smugglers

Guns, people and stolen goods move with surprising ease and regularity over a sensitive border.
Smoke rises after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Armenian Christian town of Kasab April 7, 2014. For three years, residents of Syria's Mediterranean provinces have watched from their coastal sanctuary as civil war raging further inland tore the country apart, killing tens of thousands of people and devastating historic cities. But a three-week-old offensive by rebel fighters in the north of Latakia province, a bastion of Assad's Alawite minority,

“Multidimensional” is a term the Turkish government loves repeating to inflate the wisdom of Turkey’s foreign policy. Its applicability to other fronts may be debated, but it surely prevails along the 910-kilometer (565-mile) border with Syria.

Gates open and close at the whim of the opposition groups that control them and remain locked if controlled by Kurds. States legitimize illegal activities under the cloak of reinforcing the opposition in the Syrian civil war but dig trenches to prevent "undesirable illegal crossings" and erect movable concrete walls. Armies of smugglers, depending on their connections, are either given free rein or caught in the act, and refugee camps are set up right on border firing lines. As if the 10- to 15-kilometer (6- to 9-mile) deep buffer zone created by the new rules of engagement was not enough, we now have a point-zero the opposition uses to fire its mortars. Syrian radars lock on to Turkish F-16s while preventing Syrian planes from coming near the Turkish border, and trucks cross the border with mysterious loads.

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