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Turkey's reconstruction efforts breathe life into liberated areas of Syria

Turkey's efforts to normalize the regions liberated from YPG and Daesh terrorists have enabled citizens to return to their everyday life with schools and hospitals reopened and roads built

Published November 18,2019
People enjoy day to day life in Afrin, a norhwestern Syrian province liberated from the terrorist elements through Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, Nov.17, 2019.
"Since the operation, every day is getting better in the region," said a resident from Afrin, one of the liberated towns of northern Syria, expressing content with the outcomes of Turkey's cross-border offensive Operation Olive Branch. His remarks came yesterday following Turkey's efforts to normalize the region and portray an example of how these normalization efforts, during which the country revives the infrastructure, schools, and hospitals of not only Afrin but of all the liberated provinces, reflect upon the locals.

After launching three consecutive operations to northern Syria, Turkey rolled up its sleeves to reconstruct any hospitals, schools, mosques, and roads destroyed by the PKK's Syrian offshoot, the People's Protection Units (YPG). Within the scope of ameliorating the region's social infrastructure, people were given food and clothing aid by several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

For instance, in the case of Afrin, the Afrin Hospital was rebuilt and enhanced both physically and in terms of technological equipment and as a result, more than 30,000 residents were treated there since the operation and underwent medical screening. Some 69 babies were born so far in the hospital, where 80 health officers work and four dialyzers are found. While the hospital is open to service for civilians and medicine is given free of charge, efforts to enhance the bed capacity of 60 to 100 are still going on.

Turkey is a country that has gained the utmost appreciation around the world by virtue of its efforts to assist the survival of Syrians who were forced to leave their homes. Hosting more than 4 million Syrians and spending billions of dollars on their needs, despite the ongoing conflict, Turkey now looks to establish prosperous settlements and improve living conditions for Syrians in Turkish-controlled areas.

Turkey also established a refugee health clinic at the Muhammadiyah camp in Afrin where 10 health personnel are based, capable of treating 100 patients per day. With Turkey's mobile health screening activities, 2,000 Afrin residents have undergone health and eye screening while Afrin's biggest hospital and a further four health centers were rebuilt with equipment and personnel support.

On the other side, the Olive Branch border gate between Afrin and southern Hatay has been opened with the aim of enhancing trade relations and facilitating the passage of humanitarian aid trucks. With the help of Turkey, a road of 35 kilometers has been opened and paved with asphalt stretching from Hatay to Afrin, while 180 kilometers of road connecting Afrin to four big towns were also mended.

The state-run Water Works Agency (DSİ) and teams from the Hatay metropolitan municipality have also renewed a water supply network of 110 kilometers, which was damaged by the underground tunnels dug by terrorists, enabling the city center and surrounding towns to access drinking water.

In order to enhance the workforce in the province, Turkey opened 50 education courses and 25 small textile and sewing workshops.

Another resident of the region, farmer Ahmed Hattab said to Anadolu Agency (AA), "Workplaces have started to come to life. People have started to open their workplaces. There have been people coming from out of town to move here."

Moreover, in order to normalize life in the region, two football pitches and astro pitches have been built, nearly 20 schools damaged by terrorists are being rebuilt while five of them have been opened and so far 100 mosques have been rendered usable while reconstruction works for 25 still proceed.

Since the day the operation was launched, 80,000 tons of humanitarian aid has been sent to the region by public institutions and NGOs. Public kitchens set up by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and NGOs provide meals for 100,000 people and distribute nearly 200,000 loaves of bread.

Besides the recent Operation Peace Spring launched on Oct.9, Turkey carried out two cross-border operations west of the Euphrates River, Operation Euphrates Shield in August 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in January 2018 to drive out terrorists, including the YPG and Daesh, from its borders. Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces entered Afrin town center and liberated it from terrorists on March 18.

While Turkey liberated northwestern territories from Daesh, it also prevented the YPG from establishing a de facto autonomous region in Syria connecting the northwestern Afrin to Kobani and Jazeera in the northeast, which Ankara describes as a "terror corridor" posing a grave security threat to its national security.

Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ayn return to normal

Furthermore, since Operation Peace Spring, the liberated areas of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn have also been put back on the road to normalization with reconstruction work.

The TSK is currently working together with Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Recovery (AFAD) to provide food aid and health check services to civilians in Ras al-Ayn, according to the Defense Ministry.

Furthermore, since the terrorist organizations left the regions littered with bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden in civilian settlements such as in residential buildings, schools and under bridges and roads, the TSK is proceeding in its work of detecting the explosives and neutralizing them.

Recently, handmade explosives placed under a bridge used for civilian purposes between Ras al-Ayn and Tal Halaf were disabled by the TSK.

The ministry further announced on Saturday that the road problem in Tal Abyad is also being solved besides many other. "We have waited five years for our road to be built," a local Syrian resident said.

"The hospital in Ras al-Ayn is being opened to service after rebuilding efforts. The terrorists had placed IEDs in the hospital as well as a poster of Abdullah Öcalan and photos taken with him," stated Şanlıurfa Health Director Emre Erkuş yesterday. Meanwhile, efforts to reach the hospital's full capacity also continue.

Erkuş added that 12 beds are currently in service and the women's, birth, child and emergency units have begun to be used. The hospital had been used as a so-called headquarters by terrorists and was filled with IEDs and tunnels were dug into the basement floor. After security forces neutralized all the explosives, the health ministry started its work to restore its functions.

The YPG, which had been attacking Turkey from across the border since Turkey started its anti-terror campaign, had been targeting civilian settlements with mortars and rockets. Due to the attacks, Mardin's Nusaybin, Kızıltepe and Artuklu, Şırnak's Cizre, Silopi and İdil districts had suspended schools for a while. Today, 44,417 students in 211 schools in six provinces that missed valuable classes due to terrorist attacks, will receive makeup lessons while the rest of the students in Turkey are on a midterm break this week.