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Syrian authorities halt ferries to Turkey

It’s become even harder for Syrians to flee the war-ravaged country after Syrian authorities stopped the ferry service between Tartus and the Turkish port city of Mersin.
A Syrian woman (C) stands with her daughter near the Bosphorus on August 30, 2014, at Eminonu, in Istanbul. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC        (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

TARTUS, Syria — On Dec. 8, the Syrian authorities issued a decision to halt the ferries transporting passengers from the Syrian port of Tartus to the Turkish port of Mersin. Why these trips, which started late last summer, began operating is unclear, given the high tension between Damascus and Ankara.

Before these ferries began service, Syrians used to travel to Turkey via Beirut or through land crossings controlled by Syrian opposition factions. All crossings on the Syrian-Turkish border controlled by the Syrian regime have been closed, and Syrian-Turkish flights were suspended while relations between the two governments deteriorated. Before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, using the land crossings was easy and inexpensive. It was possible to drive from Tartus to Mersin, and the trip would take less than five hours through the Kassab crossing, which has been closed for over two years now.

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