Three years after Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, locals are hopeful about the future thanks to the stable and secure environment.
Aug. 24 marks the third year since Turkey launched the operation with the aim of clearing part of northern Syria of Daesh terrorists.
Based on the Article 51 of U.N. Charter, Turkey launched the operation on Aug. 24, 2016, using its right of self-defense to eradicate the terrorist elements, primarily Daesh, which threatened its national security and provide border security in northern Syria. On the first day of the operation, the Syrian town of Jarabulus which borders the Karkamış district of Turkey's southeastern Gaziantep province was liberated from terrorist elements. On Feb. 23, 2017, the northwestern town of al-Bab was freed from Daesh terrorists.
During the operation, an area of 2,055 square kilometers between the two towns was also cleared from terrorist groups in 217 days.
On March 29, 2017, then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced that the operation was successfully completed. At the end of the operation, Turkey focused on providing security and stability in the region, to create the necessary conditions for the return of civilians displaced due to terrorism. To that end, security forces and officials trained in Turkey started operating in the region. Through Turkey's initiatives and support in health, education and public services, the population in the region has reached almost 2 million. Speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA) on the third anniversary of the operation, local people expressed their content and hopes following the positive developments in the region in the post-operation period.
Muhammed Faris, an environmental management official at the al-Bab municipality, said the first phase after the operation was not exactly easy to handle. "But local councils were established. Streets were cleaned. Schools and mosques were reopened. The police unit started to operate. Courthouses started to work. In sum, the region has found peace in time." He added that they are still working to meet the needs of civilians in the region. Ahmed Abu Yaser, a local resident, said the region has become safer with the Operation Euphrates Shield. "Thousands of families now live in safety. People have returned home," he added. Muhammed Devvab, another local resident, explained that they went through very though periods under the control of Daesh. "There were no jobs or comfort. They deprived us of everything. There was no freedom. Our schools were transformed into military centers. Our children could not go outside because of Daesh oppression," he explained. Qasim Ali, a nine-year-old, said he was scared of going outside before. "The Turkish army protected us. I am not scared anymore," he said.
Turkey carried out two cross-border operations west of the Euphrates River, Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in January 2018, to drive terrorist groups, including the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh, from its borders.
While the country liberated northwestern territories from Daesh, it also prevented the YPG from establishing a de facto autonomous region in Syria connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobane and Jazeera cantons in the northeast, which Ankara describes a "terror corridor" posing a grave threat to its national security.
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