The Turkish government has been quietly advancing its plans for a safe zone in Syria aiming at foiling the Kurdish desire to extend the Kurdish corridor from Tell Abyad to Afrin. The government’s plans have been slowed by the ongoing focus on setting up a new government for Turkey. Many observers feel that the Turkish government, after the recent attacks [including the July 20 Suruc bombing], may now have an easier time securing public approval of its plans for Syria.
The Turkish Armed Forces, to confront the national security threats posed by the increasing effectiveness of the Islamic State, the PYD (Democratic Union Party) and other terror organizations along Turkey’s border with Syria, has developed a new border security project that will cost about 2 billion Turkish lira ($730 million).
Main elements of the Syrian Border Physical Security System will be a concrete wall along the border, watchtowers, paved patrol road, reinforced wire fences, illumination systems, effective border forces, aerial surveillance by unmanned aerial vehicles, and balloons and ground surveillance by armored vehicles. The project is expected to be approved by the Council of Ministers soon and will be a part of the nationwide Integrated Border Security System that will be implemented by the Ministry of Interior and will cost some 4 billion lira ($1.46 billion).
The national integrated system will cover Turkey’s 2,949 kilometers (1,832 miles) of land borders and provide year-round, 24-hour-a-day surveillance. The objective is to ensure the security of the borders and prevent illegal crossings. The Syrian Border Physical Security System will cover a 911-kilometer (566-mile) segment of the national borders and has been given priority until the national system is implemented. Meanwhile, coordinated efforts with local administrators to improve the existing border security measures are continuing.
In 2014, 992 foreign militants were stopped at the Syrian border. In the first half of 2015, 468 foreign fighters were apprehended. These numbers do not include Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian nationals. In the first half of 2015, Chinese nationals lead the list of those apprehended with 241, followed by 50 Russian nationals.
In addition to stepped-up activities of the PYD and IS along the Turkish border, there has been a significant increase in the amount of narcotics confiscated.