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Turkish university to open campus in northern Syria’s al-Bab

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A Turkish university said on Wednesday it would open a campus in one of the northern Syrian regions under the control of Turkey’s military and its Syrian rebel allies, deepening Ankara’s role in an area it has held for nearly two years, Reuters reported.

Turkey with Free Syrian Army forces took control of the Jarablus and al-Bab areas in northern Syria during an operation called Euphrates Shield against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants between August 2016 and March 2017.

Turkey’s Harran University, in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, said it is preparing to open a faculty in al-Bab for students in towns under Turkish control.

The university will provide education in Turkish, Arabic and English, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

“We wanted to be a door to hope for the youth there, with the aim of aiding our country’s humanitarian endeavors,” Rector Ramazan Tasaltin was quoted as saying on the Harran University website.

The Turkish Cabinet has also approved opening a vocational high school in Jarablus affiliated with Gaziantep University, Turkey’s Official Gazette said on Tuesday.

Turkish administrators are already helping to run hospitals in the area. Schoolchildren in al-Bab study Turkish, while Turkish signposts, Turkish-trained police and a Turkish post office all point to Ankara’s influence in the region.

Turkey launched a second incursion into Syria on Jan. 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the Afrin region. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been involved in a conflict with Turkish security forces since 1984.

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