Iraq's Ministry of Immigration announced on Saturday, October 19, that it has closed crossings along its border with Syria near combat zones due to concerns that Islamic State (IS) militants will enter the country following the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria. Immigration Minister Noufal Moussa reportedly said that the government is closely monitoring the security and humanitarian situations along the border and is preparing for a mass exodus, before calling upon the UN for greater cooperation.
On October 20, Kurdish forces began withdrawing from northeastern Syria under a US-brokered ceasefire deal with Turkey. The ceasefire is due to end on Tuesday, October 22, by which point Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that he will resume the Turkish offensive in Syria if the Kurdish forces have not withdrawn from the area.
Turkish forces launched a military operation in northeastern Syria in an attempt to expel Syrian Kurdish (People's Protection Units; YPG) forces from the Turkish border on October 5. President Erdoğan stated that the air and ground operations will extend 30 km (19 mi) into Syria's northeastern border. Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group in Turkey. The offensive comes days after US President Donald Trump announced a US military pullback in the region.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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