Turkey to complete wall on Syria border by mid-2017, minister says

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Concrete walls are built on Turkey - Syria border in the Reyhanli District of Hatay, Turkey on February 23, 2016.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık said on Wednesday that the construction of a concrete wall along the Turkish-Syrian border will be completed in the first half of 2017.

During a visit to border units in southern Hatay province, Işık said almost 270 kilometers (167 miles) of the wall had been completed so far and that the construction of 200 kilometers (124 miles) of the remaining 520 kilometers (323 miles) had started.

In order to stop illegal crossings over its 900-kilometer (559 miles) border with Syria, Turkish army units are erecting the modular walls along the Turkish-Syrian borderline between the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa and the Karkamış district of Gaziantep.

Meanwhile, US Department of Defense spokesperson Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said on Wednesday that the United States is not working with Turkey to create a “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.

We do not think a safe zone would resolve the fundamental issues on the ground because there continues to be fighting on the ground,” he said, according to Russia’s Sputnik news agency.

Underlining that US support for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) opposition forces on the ground helped to stop infiltration of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters into Turkey, Rankine-Galloway added if US forces can preserve the space along the Turkish border, they will be able to promote greater security and prevent the flow of foreign fighters into and out of Syria.

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