Normality, stability returning to parts of northern Syria - Politico

Northern Syria’s tow of Tel Abyad is slowly returning to normal as schools and hospitals open, while the wider region remains unstable a year after the Turkish military drove out Syrian Kurdish forces that controlled the area after ending an Islamic State (ISIS) occupation in 2016.

Outside of the border town, hundreds of thousands of children across the country are still on the path to becoming a lost generation, and the need for humanitarian aid for people of all ages continues, according to an article published on Politico on Wednesday.

Tel Abyad came under control of the Free Syrian Army in 2012, to be replaced by Al Nusra Front the next year, after which ISIS took over in 2014. The majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) took the town in 2015 and, with backing from the United States, its affiliate group Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) remained in control until Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring last year.

Turkey does not allow international NGOs to enter Tel Abyad, but two Turkish state-affiliated organisations, AFAD and the Red Crescent, manage deliveries of food, medicine and clothing.

Turkey’s original plan was to clear the area of SDF and YPG forces to possibly resettle a portion of Turkey’s close to four million Syrian refugees in the area, but it has not been the case to date.

A hospital in town has prepared to take on any COVID-19 cases, but officially, none have been recorded yet. However, doctors say it may be due to a lack of awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

Turkey provides educational material for the schools in town, and residents use both the Syrian pound and Turkish lira in their daily transactions.

The Turkish Red Crescent runs a charity shop in town that doesn’t charge anything for its basic goods. Together with AFAD, the Red Crescent has been distributing boxes of fundamental foodstuffs to the population.

Occasional clashes continue in northern Syria in the aftermath of Turkey’s military incursions, and Turkish forces and their Syrian allied groups have been accused of violating the ceasefire, targeting civilians and committing war crimes.

According to Turkey’s official figures, some 414,000 Syrians have returned to their country after Turkish incursions starting in 2016.