Syria's gates to neighboring countries start opening after years of isolation

The Naseeb crossing on Monday

President Bashar Assad's government received a major boost Monday as Syria's commercial gateway with Jordan and a crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights manned by U.N peacekeepers were reopened years after the war disrupted their operations.

Both the SANA and Petra news agencies confirmed traffic had begun to pass through the crossing, which would mean the reconnection of the worldwide highway that crosses Syria from north to south and the resumption of exports to Jordan and the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, a major boost to the Syrian economy.

As the only functioning crossing between Jordan and Syria, Nasib is vital for goods transport from Lebanon and Syria to Jordan and the Gulf states.

While the crossing was closed, Syria's only normally operating frontier crossing had been with Lebanon, which itself has no other functioning land borders.

"The opening of the crossing symbolizes the return of the enforcement of the 1974 disengagement agreement [between Israel and Syria]", the IDF said.

Separately, Israel reopened the Quneitra crossing on its occupied Golan Heights front with Syria on Monday.

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Mideast war.

Also, marriages had taken place between Syrians in Golan and Quneitra in the past. "With the closure of the crossing over the past three years, the sector was exporting only 350,000 tons by sea, causing losses to farmers because they had to sell the remaining production at prices below 50 percent of the cost of production".

The Jordanian side of the crossing on Monday
The Jordanian side of the crossing on Monday

Trucks began crossing into Jordan from Syria for the first time since the al-Naseeb border passage was closed due to fighting in 2015. Syrian government troops retook their side of the crossing in July under a Moscow-brokered deal with the rebels.

Khaled Abaza, secretary of Syria's Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party's branch in Quneitra, told Xinhua that "the reopening of this crossing is reviving the lifeline between our people who are under occupation and on their homeland".

Syria's state-run media reported on Monday that a crossing with Jordan and another with Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have been reopened.

For his part, Muallem said that the terror groups were controlling the crossings, accusing the countries backing them of standing against the opening of the crossings.

The news came as Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem discussed "speeding up" the reopening of the country's border crossings with Iraq at a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Damascus.

The SDF, backed by the coalition, has ousted IS from swathes of northern and eastern Syria, including Raqa, the de facto capital of the jihadists' so-called caliphate.

Syrian state television also cited Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar as saying the border crossing and roads leading to it were being renovated.

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