Turkey to set up university in Syria’s al-Bab as 200,000 refugees returned
Turkey will establish an applied sciences university in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 20, adding that nearly 200,000 refugees have returned to the “liberated areas” in Syria.
Erdoğan’s remarks came during his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) election rally in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.
He said an applied sciences faculty would be established in al-Bab in coordination with Turkey’s Maarif Foundation and Harran University.
“Classes will begin in September 2018,” Erdoğan added, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
The Turkish army had launched the Euphrates Shield Operation with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which lasted from August 2016 to March 2017 and resulted in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) elements being cleared from an area of around 2,000 square kilometers, including al-Bab and Jarablus.
In January 2018, Turkey also launched “Operation Olive Branch” to remove the armed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin, which it sees as the offspring of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Nearly 200,000 Syrians have returned to these areas, to Jarablus and now to Afrin. And now, we have made a deal with America and are making Manbij a safer area. My Arab brothers in Manbij are returning and will return to their lands,” Erdoğan said on June 20, citing the two operations.
The president said Turkey established 12 observation points in Syria’s Idlib and made the area safer for its residents.
On June 18, Turkish and U.S. forces began to patrol Syria’s Manbij in line with a deal, which was first announced after a meeting in Washington last week between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Manbij deal focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated YPG terror group from the northern Syrian city in order to stabilize the region.
Should the model prove to be a success, Turkey will push for a similar arrangement in eastern Syria.