Kurdistan Region-Turkey border to be reopened

The Ibrahim Khalil border gate between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey is going to be reopened in "two to three days" according to the Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade.

ANKARA, ZAKHO (K24) - The Ibrahim Khalil border gate between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey is going to be reopened in about "two to three days" according to a news release published Sunday on the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade website.

Turkish authorities have kept the border crossing point closed for the last three weeks, citing the ongoing clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the nearby towns of Cizre and Silopi.

The Turkish Minister of Customs, Bulent Tufenkci, said that at least 500 trucks will be allowed into Iraq and 750 into Turkey each day when the gate is reopened "from Monday on," reported the ministry's website.

During a visit to the border crossing in the Kurdish-majority province of Sirnak, the Turkish minister Tufenkci also revealed that his country's exports through Ibrahim Khalil gate, known as Habur in Turkey, stood at 8.5 billion dollars in 2015. Tufenkci did not mention his country's and local transporters' financial losses due to the closure of the gate.

A K24 reporter in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Zakho said the gate was still not open as of Monday evening.

The head of the Iraqi Kurdish customs in Zakho, Mihemed Tahir, told K24 that the halted border commerce has cost the Kurdistan Region one million dollars per day, as thousands of truckers remain stranded under harsh winter conditions on both sides. Tahir said, "We have been working hard with our Turkish counterparts to find a solution." Meanwhile, the Barzani Charity Foundation, a humanitarian aid organisation, provided food for the helpless truckers.

Some of those stranded at the Turkish border chose to take a longer route through the Haji Omeran border crossing with Iran, almost 300 kilometers to the east, reported a K24 correspondent.

(Adnan Gerger reported from Ankara, Turkey. Chekdar Jamal and Tayfour Muhammad contributed to this report from Ibrahim Khalil and Haji Omeran border crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan)