Turkey appoints governors in recently invaded northern Syrian towns – Rudaw

The Turkish government has appointed new governors to the northeastern Syrian towns of Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad seized during a military operation launched in October, Rudaw reported on Friday.

Turkey appointed governors for both towns for coordination purposes, Abdullah Erin, the governor of Turkey’s southeastern Şanlıurfa province, said on Thursday, after visiting both towns and meeting Turkish military and intelligence officials as well as the commanders of pro-Turkey Syrian militia groups.

Ankara plans to establish a 32 km deep safe zone along a 120 km stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border between Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad, after the withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the region as a result of a Turkish-Russian deal agreed in October to halt the Turkish offensive. 

The governor also said that Turkey had started providing various municipal services including water, energy, health centres, education and infrastructure. He said that councils to be formed by representatives of the local population would oversee local services, while the Turkish military and Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) would provide security services in the area.

Turkish armed forces will start training some 1,800 Syrian men within a week, with more to follow later to bring the total number to about 4,000, to be appointed as rural and urban police officers in the two towns, according to Erin.

İbrahim Madenli, the head of Governor Erin’s media office, told Rudaw that the newly appointed governors had already begun working. He did not provide a specific start date, but a source in the area told Rudaw that the governors had been in office for a week.

Turkey has followed a similar roadmap in other parts of Syria it seized in operations in 2016 and 2018, establishing dual administrations with appointed Turkish governors in al-Bab, Jarabulus, Azaz and Afrin.