Turkey is quietly sealing off its border with Syria in an attempt to block Islamic State smuggling, but it also cuts it off from militias allied with the United States. Matthew Larotonda reports.
Turkey's frontier with war-ravaged Syria is being quietly sealed off with a sprawling complex of walls and mine fields. Snaking through even the most desolate regions, Turkey's military is putting on a public display to show it is clamping down on this conduit for Islamic State smuggling. Ankara was accused by some Western powers of being too slow to respond to the flow of foreign fighters across its borders during the early years of Islamic State's rise. Three metres tall and dotted with thermal cameras and watchtowers, the wall's construction came as it was deploying its own special forces and armoured units deep into Syria last year. It's also separating Turkey from another faction: Kurdish militia known as the PYD. They're backed by the United States and a dominant force on the ground, controlling large swaths of northern Syria. But Turkey associates them with Kurdish militants they've battled at home for decades. Those militants are labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, Washington, and the European Union. Turkey has demanded that the PYD be excluded from the fight for Raqqa, but a compromise is yet to be found.