Diyarbakır, the largest city in Turkey's southeast, hosted a historic event Wednesday in a post-terror period. Having suffered from attacks by the PKK terrorist group, Diyarbakır's historical district Sur is now to undergo redevelopment. Government representatives and dignitaries attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a set of projects that will revive Sur where the bullets and bombs tore down the walls of historic buildings, from mosques to churches.
Sur and the rest of Diyarbakır were cleared of terrorist groups last year after more than 100 days of counterterror operations during which troops and police officers swept through streets where heavily-armed militants held the public hostage. In the aftermath of the operations, Ankara has vowed to rebuild the area in the city that has historically been at the center of PKK attacks, as the group claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım attended the ceremony via videolink from Ankara while Environment and Urban Planning Minister Mehmet Özhaseki joined the head of the state-run housing authority, which will build new residences for Diyarbakır residents, for the ground-breaking ceremony.
The first ceremony was for "Urban Design and Landscape Project" in İçkale Valley, where ancient city walls were straddled through with bullets. The project aims to break new ground for residences, which will be compatible with local architecture in the city that traces back its history to 3,000 B.C.
Plans to rebuild the district will see the demolition of housing units not in line with zoning plans and buildings that were heavily damaged during the terror campaign.
One of the main goals of the project is to restore the city's heritage, such as mosques, churches and other historical buildings dating back to the Ottoman era. The ministry has already started work on 31 historical buildings in the district.
Turkey will also build 5,637 apartments for the city's residents to address the housing shortage following the damage on residential areas by the PKK. The construction of some 1,000 apartments is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017, according to local media outlets.
Authorities also plan on building more than 8,800 residences in other regional towns, including Şırnak, Cizre, Silopi and İdil, where the PKK launched a spate of attacks in 2015 following the declaration of the end to a unilateral "truce" with Turkey.
Speaking at the ceremony in Diyarbakır, which hosts a predominantly Kurdish population, Binali Yıldırım said terrorists would fail to ruin the unity between Turks and Kurds, while locals attending the pioneering ceremony waved banners highlighting the "brotherhood" of Turks and Kurds. Yıldırım said the landscape and rebuilding project for İçkale Valley and Kırklar Hill would cost TL 60 million ($16.755 million) and will be completed within 2017.
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