1. ITV Report

The Turkish border town that acts as an entrance to Syria conflict

The Turkish town of Antakya on the Syrian border. Photo: ITV News

Tam Hussein had to undergo days of travel to unknown locations before meeting British Jihadi Abu Firas. Here he writes about the Turkish town of Antakya - the entrance door to the Syrian conflict.

By Tam Hussein

Antakya has seen many changes in its history, this ancient city once a bastion of Christianity, then a multicultural polity under the Abbasids, it was a famous crusader kingdom, then Ottoman territory, and in the 20th century it became Syrian territory until it was ceded over to Turkey and became known as Hatay.

Antakya has seen many changes in its history. Credit: ITV News

It is now undergoing demographic changes, with whole Syrian villages and communities settling in and around the city.

It has also become a place where rebel fighters come to recuperate, restock and share war stories.

From Antakya it’s an easy matter to make your way down to border towns, and then into Syria, as many Britons have already done.

Rebel fighters go to Antakya to restock and recuperate. Credit: ITV News

This is also where Britons wishing to fight would first make their way into Syria.

Although there is tension created by the presence of Syrians in the city, there has been demonstrations by the local Aleviti community who are not as enthusiastic about Turkish involvement in the conflict.

You can buy combat vests in Antakya. Credit: ITV News

Syrians however have learnt to be discreet about their activities and Antakyans have learnt to ask few questions about the goods bought by Syrians and the people they take in, and many are sympathetic to the rebel cause.

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