As the Free Syrian Army (FSA) units backed by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) took control of Afrin town center, as part of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch on Sunday, the efforts to provide stability have been simultaneously kicked off. A local council consisting of 30 members was established in the "Afrin Liberation Congress" which was convened in Turkey's Southeastern city of Gaziantep with the participation of over 100 people. In an effort to rebuild Afrin and enable the return of people, the congress took several decisions.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 with an aim of clearing PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) from the regions it previously obtained under the pretext of fighting against Daesh.
Since the beginning of the operation, Turkey has been stressing that the purpose of the operation is to eliminate terror threats directed at Turkey and pave way for the return of people to their lands. Ankara has repeatedly underlined that the operation is not targeting the Kurdish people living in the region, but rather the terrorists.
Commenting on the liberation of Afrin, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that Turkey will immediately take necessary steps to make sure that the residents of the city are able to return to their homes as soon as possible.
In the congress's final declaration, it was decided that the entry and exits from Afrin should be secured by clearing planted bombs.
The congress announced that the control of Afrin should be given to the people of Afrin and the elections of local council should be held regularly which would be observed by the non-governmental organizations. It was also stressed that the public needs to be disarmed and all segments of the society should be respected. According to the final declaration, local security forces will be formed from people who are not members of any party, in order to provide security.
Touching on the claims that Turkey will not leave the region, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on the weekend that "We have stated from the beginning that we have no intentions to stay. We heard these claims during the Operation Euphrates Shield as well. In the Jarablus-Azaz line over 135,000 Syrian families settled there. 160,000 students are going to school."
Prior to the Afrin operation, the TSK launched Operation Euphrates Shield against Daesh to neutralize terrorist elements in al-Bab, al-Rai, Dabiq and Jarablus. Turkey cleared the area and substantially contributed to the rebuilding process, enabling the return of Syrians in the areas cleared in the operation. The operation cleared 1,900 square kilometers of Daesh, allowing more than 100,000 refugees to return home. Underlining that a model of state is established in Jarablus, Yıldırım highlighted that "villages, districts are established; security is provided and schools are opened. Courts have been established. A model of state is formed."
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