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After two years of closure, Syrian pilgrims resume travel through Bab al-Hawa crossing

Syrians with hajj permits are once again crossing from northern Syria into Turkey on pilgrimage to Mecca after a two-year halt.
OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images

IDLIB, Syria — Pilgrims are leaving Idlib through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on pilgrimage running from July 7 through July 12. Two years ago, Saudi Arabia closed its doors to pilgrims from around the world as part of prevention measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

Although Saudi Arabia reduced Syria’s quota for the 2022 hajj season to 45% of the usual number, the pilgrimage season is seen as one of the few opportunities for the residents of northwestern Syria to leave the area, which is jammed between the Syrian government-controlled territories and the Turkish border. The route has been closed to passenger traffic since 2016, with Turkey receiving some 3.6 million Syrian refugees over the first five years of the war.

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