Turkey’s border with Syria, like all borders, allows passage both ways – at least for the right price.
Refugees fleeing north to escape a three-year civil war and Islamic extremists heading south to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad all need a little help to make the crossing.
And in towns like Kilis, located just a few miles from Syria, they find it.
“We smuggle,” a 12-year-old boy wearing Adidas shorts and Velcro sandals told me as he hung out on a metal fence with his friends. “We’re the kids of the area, so we’ll walk where we want. It’s easy.”
The boy, who smuggles people across the border for around 50 to 100 Turkish lira (22 to 44 dollars), doesn’t reveal who his customers are or their motivations for making the crossing.
Of course, it’s not just children involved in the border-crossing business.
Abou Mahmoud, the owner of a road-side eatery offering falafels, cans of orange soda and kebabs, claims to have served at least 100 foreign fighters headed to Syria. They included men from France, Sudan, Egypt and Afghanistan.