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After a two-year closed Turkish border, thousands of Syrians can travel home

Refugees are allowed to celebrate Eid holiday with family members

Thousands of Syrian refugees can return home from Turkey during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Turkish government temporarily opened two border crossings with its war-torn neighbor for the first time in nearly two years. This comes as something to smile about for refugees who have not seen their loved ones in so long.

Thousands may cross the Turkish border

Tens of thousands of Syrians are expected to cross the border north of Aleppo, according to The Washington Post. The one-month re-entry into Syria allows families to reunite and celebrate the Eid holiday together for the first time in years, after being separated by the war. The Eid holiday is a multi-day festivity celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan. Many Syrians welcomed the opportunity to go back, even if it’s for a short time, to be together with family again.

The temporary reopening of the border comes just months after IS was expelled from the northern Aleppo countryside. Turkey shut the official border crossings in 2015, allowing entry to exceptions such as severe injuries only. The aim was to prevent a spillover of the Syrian conflict and to contain the flood of refugees. To reinforce the policy, Ankara has been building a wall along the boundary.

Twenty-one-year-old Ismail Hadidi Jafar left Syria two years ago and had not gone back since. On Tuesday, he was waiting to cross into his home country from the Oncupinar gate in the southern province of Kilis, to visit his parents and family in Aleppo

“I have a young sibling whom I’ve never met,” Jafar told The Associated Press while preparing to cross over. As he waited, the crowds expanded and hundreds of refugees were forced to stand in the blistering sun to be individually processed by police and migration officials for the crossing. Seeing the vast queues, some Syrians abandoned their plans to visit, but excitement remained high.

The two crossings will stay open for departures to Syria until June 23. Returns through Oncupinar will be allowed until July 14 and through Cilvegozu until September 30, though Turkish authorities reserve the right to change these dates.

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