Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing

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Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing
Bab El Hawa Border.jpg
Passport control building, 2006
Coordinates36°13′50.3″N 36°41′33.5″E / 36.230639°N 36.692639°E / 36.230639; 36.692639Coordinates: 36°13′50.3″N 36°41′33.5″E / 36.230639°N 36.692639°E / 36.230639; 36.692639
CarriesCommercial goods, vehicles
CrossesSyria-Turkey border
LocaleTurkey Cilvegözü, Turkey
Syria Bab al-Hawa, Syria
Official nameBab al-Hawa Border Crossing
معبر باب الهوى

The Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing (Arabic: معبر باب الهوى, "Gate of the Winds"[1]) is an international border on the Syria-Turkey border. It connects the Syrian M45 and the Turkish D827 highways, between the cities of İskenderun and Idlib, and is known for its long lines of trucks and buses.[2] The closest town on the Turkish side of the border is Reyhanlı in Hatay Province, and the closest towns on the Syrian side are ad-Dana and Atarib. The crossing is the site of a 6th-century triumphal arch.[1][3] It has been an important crossing for Syrian rebels during the Syrian civil war.[4]


There is a monumental Roman archway in Bab al-Hawa that was part of a city wall.[5][6] There is a further complex of Byzantine architecture near the archway that has been largely destroyed and re-used in border construction. It features a church and another large rectangular building.[7]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, it was a frequent place of crossing for Syrians trying to reach the refugee camp in nearby Reyhanlı.[8] Drivers complained in December 2011 that they had been stalled at the crossing for days after customs officials stopped allowing vehicles with Turkish registrations to enter Syria.[9] The crossing is a major route for smuggling, particularly oil and gas, and during the conflict has seen a dramatic rise in weapons smuggling.[10] On 19 July 2012, Syrian rebels from the Free Syrian Army seized the border and defaced images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[11][12][13] On 22 July 2012, Turkish armed forces further restricted border crossings of their own nationals.[14]

In September 2012 foreign jihadists raised the Jihadist flag of al-Qaeda at the border post, leading to a confrontation with the Free Syrian Army.[15][16] On February 11, 2013, a car bomb in a Syrian-registered minivan was detonated on the Turkish side of the crossing meters from the Cilvegözü customs office.[17] Thirteen people—including 3 Turkish civilians—were killed, while 28 others were wounded and 19 vehicles were damaged.[18] The Turkish government labeled the bombing a terrorist act,[18] and said that Turkey's interior, justice and customs ministers would visit the area to help the investigation.[17]

On 7 December 2013, the Islamic Front took the crossing from the Free Syrian Army,[19][20] and as of July 2014, they were manning the Syrian side with members of the Salafist militia Ahrar ash-Sham.[21] Ahrar a-Sham maintained control when the Islamic Front dissolved in 2015, but established a civilian administration for the border crossing in April 2015.[20]

On 23 July 2017, hundreds of Ahrar al-Sham fighters withdrew with their equipment from the crossing and retreated to Turkey after the al-Qaeda-affiliated Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) defeated Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib.[22] As a result, the crossing was largely closed by Turkey, with the exception of exports of humanitarian aid and food from Turkey.[23] On 26 July 26, HTS and Ahrar al-Sham reached an agreement that they would hand over the crossing to a civilian administration so that the flow of humanitarian aid could resume. However, HTS retained control of the towns, villages and roads around it, leaving them in a decisive position. The crossing re-opened on 18 October. In November 2017, civil officials operating the crossing reported that all revenue generated (estimated at $25 million a year in late 2016) goes to the local civil administration.[20] On the 3 March 2020, the US envoy to Syria James Jeffrey, visited the border crossing and supported the Turkish presence in the Idlib Governorate.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Photographs C_042 Album C 1905 - Syria, Turkey". Gertrude Bell Archive. Newcastle University.
  2. ^ "Getting there & away". Lonely Planet. 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Bab al-Hawa Archeological Site, Bridge between Syria and Turkey". SANA. 9 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^[bare URL]
  5. ^ Warwick Ball (16 January 2001). Rome in the East. Taylor & Francis. pp. 213–. ISBN 978-0-415-24357-5. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  6. ^ Terry Carter; Lara Dunston; Amelia Thomas (1 July 2008). Syria and Lebanon. Lonely Planet. pp. 127–. ISBN 978-1-74104-609-0. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  7. ^ John F. Haldon (30 September 2010). Money, Power and Politics in Early Islamic Syria: A Review of Current Debates. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-0-7546-6849-7. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  8. ^ McDonnell, Patrick (15 July 2012). "Syria rebels seek weapons, money on Turkish border". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  9. ^ Champion, Marc (8 December 2011). "Tension Rises at Turkey-Syria Border". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  10. ^ "Syria: Demonstrations to Celebrate National Independence Day of Syria". DayPress. 11 April 2011. Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Syria conflict: Rebels seize Turkey, Iraq border posts". BBC News. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  12. ^ Levs, Josh; Gast, Phil (19 July 2012). "Syria shows al-Assad, amid speculation on his whereabouts". CNN. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  13. ^ Fulya Ozerkan (22 July 2012). "Turkish truck drivers accuse Syrian rebel fighters of looting". Your Middle East. AFP.
  14. ^ "Turkey restricts border crossings with Syria". Al Jazeera English. 22 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  15. ^ Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (23 September 2012). "Syria: the foreign fighters joining the war against Bashar al-Assad". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Amos, Deborah (19 September 2012). "Syrian Rebels Fear Radicals May Hijack Revolt". NPR. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Syria crisis: 'Powerful' minibus explosion kills 13". BBC News. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  18. ^ a b Saad, Hwaida; Gladstone, Rick (11 February 2013). "Syrian Insurgents Claim to Control Large Hydropower Dam". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  19. ^ Dziadosz, Alexander; Afanasieva, Dasha (7 December 2013). "Syrian Islamists seize Western-backed rebel bases: monitoring group". Reuters. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  20. ^ a b c "The border crossings of Syria's northwest". Syria Direct. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Rebel infighting closes Bab al-Hawa crossing". The Daily Star. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  22. ^ Suleiman Al-Khalidi (24 July 2017). "Jihadist group cements control of Syria's Idlib province: rebels". Reuters.
  23. ^ Abed Kontar (10 August 2017). "Turkey limits border traffic at Syria crossing: customs minister". Reuters.
  24. ^ "Top US officials visit Syria's Idlib and pledge aid as Turkey downs another jet". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2020-09-21.

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