Local authorities are not remaining quiet on the recent attacks being carried out by the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG), with many saying that they are hindering economic development and pose a security threat in the northern Syrian territories. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ömer Kor Bilal, deputy of the local council in the opposition-controlled Mare district in northern Syria, reminded people of the harassment and infiltration attempts being carried out by YPG militants from Tal Rifaat. Bilal added that the group's attacks have been hampering the recovery progress in the region. "YPG terrorists bomb agricultural areas in Mare, which is the locals' main source of income. They also try to prevent farmers from going to their fields and destroying agricultural infrastructure," he said. He stressed that the YPG's activities also affect municipal services.
"We had launched a project after the heavy floods last year. However, terrorists targeted our heavy construction equipment with rockets and one of our workers was wounded," Bilal said. The YPG terrorist group occupied Tal Rifaat in 2016 in hopes of linking Afrin, a city in northwestern Syria, to areas under its control east of the Euphrates River, thus establishing a zone of influence along Syria's border with Turkey. However, the Syrian district of al-Bab, which is located between Tal Rifaat and Manbij, falls within the area of operations of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, a cross-border offensive launched in August 2016, thus disrupting the YPG's sought-after territorial link.
Stressing that the council is working hard to meet the needs of the people of the region, Bilal said that clearing Tal Rifaat of the YPG would have positive effects in the region.
YPG terrorists and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters often clash due to infiltration efforts into the FSA front lines in Azaz province, which is on the border with Turkey.
In January 2018, the Turkish military and FSA fighters also launched Operation Olive Branch to clear Afrin of terrorist groups, liberating the town center in March. Some 250,000 refugees from Tal Rifaat and its outskirts have taken up temporary residence in the opposition-held city of Azaz, located adjacent to the Euphrates Shield zone.
Following the operations, Turkey has also been involved in rebuilding infrastructure and health and educational institutions in the towns. Schools are being renovated and hospitals are being built. Turkey has also helped locals build olive oil facilities in the town where agriculture is the main source of income for residents in Afrin. Thanks to the success of both operations and post-operation developments in the liberated areas, the number of refugees returning to their hometowns has increased in recent years. Turkey has also spent more than $35 billion for the needs of refugees living in tent camps as well as those living outside the camps on their own so far. The humanitarian aid efforts continue in 368 centers in northwestern Afrin and Idlib, and in 285 centers in the areas cleared through Operation Euphrates Shield.
As a part of these reconstruction efforts, Turkey also opened a 500-bed hospital in al-Bab in April, making it the third and largest medical institution in the area. The hospitals, which are run by the Turkish Health Ministry, are equipped with all the necessary equipment in case of an armed conflict. Now Turkey has intensified its efforts to bring sustainable prosperity and development to the region amid the ongoing conflict so that it can be a model for the whole world.
With the backing of U.S., the YPG has managed to occupy one-third of Syria under the guise of fighting against Daesh.