Syria has recently hit the news again in a big way. After not much attention for a while, it’s back in the limelight. The president of the USA, Donald Trump, announced that he would withdraw US troops from a particular segment of the Syrian/Turkish border. As a result of this Turkey announced that they would invade Syria and as such the world news has been going crazy with news of a new war that’s going to envelop Syria.
What does this mean for our Syria tours?
Well, it’s very easy to watch the news and think “Turkey’s invading”, as a large all-encompassing statement, but this is a bit misleading. The first thing to note is that all our tours are entirely within the government-controlled areas. Turkey actually already has a strong presence in Syria – the Syrian Free Army, Al-Nursa, the Syrian National Army (a Turkish-backed group) and other rebel and opposition group controlled areas in the north west of Syria already have a strong Turkish presence. Turkish military outposts already go up to 100km into Syria, which they call a “buffer zone”. So all they’re doing, in reality, is extending this buffer zone into the Kurdish-controlled areas. It’s horrible news for the Kurdish people, but it does not and will not change the security situation in the government-controlled areas of Syria, and therefore doesn’t affect anywhere that features on any of our tour itineraries.
How can you be sure the Turkish incursion won’t spill over?
Firstly, because of what the Turks have said themselves – their aim is just to extend into the Kurdish areas. Furthermore Turkey is an intelligent actor – why would they open a war front on the Syrian Government, who is backed by Russia and Iran? Turkey and Iran are on the same side of the battle of Kurdistan, with part of the area being inside Iran as well, so Turkey needs to keep Iran onside to help them deal with that. Likewise Turkey currently has quite cordial relations with Russia and are now largely dependent on them for arms supplies, amongst other things. It would also make little economic sense to try and fight a war against Russia or Iran – two of their biggest trading partners.
Although it is horrible news for the Kurdish Syrian Democratic controlled areas in the north and north east of Syria, the recent actions of the Turkish will not impact the government-controlled areas of the country, nor will it have any consequences on tourism in Syria, since we only visit government-controlled areas anyway. So don’t worry, we’re still open for business, and Syria is still a fascinating and exciting place to visit!