The Turkification of northern Syria - Kurdish news outlet
Turkey is fast integrating Syrian territories under its military occupation by appointing civil servants, Turkifying school curricula, managing local law enforcement, and putting into practice a Sunni Islamic agenda, Kurd-focused news outlet Kurdistan 24 reported on Monday.
The governor of Turkey’s southern Hatay Province visited a Turkish Islamic high school, known as an Imam Hatip school, on Jan. 29 to meet with teachers receiving training before Turkey appointed them to schools in the Syria’s Kurdish-populated region of Afrin, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency reported.
Teachers at the religious school are tasked with teaching in the Turkish language once they are sent to Afrin, an area the Turkish army along with its proxy Syrian militias invaded a year ago.
Another Anadolu report last month revealed that Turkey had opened an Imam Hatip school in Afrin that was providing Islamic education in Turkish and Arabic.
Turkey oversees 243 primary and high schools in Afrin, according to a top official from Turkey’s Ministry of National Education, who said Turkey also controls the curricula in Azaz, Jarablus, and al-Bab in Turkish-occupied northwestern Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last year announced that his administration would appoint teachers and clerics in Afrin, but the existence of a Turkish religious school had not been made public before.
Sabah, a pro-government newspaper, reported on Jan. 18, that Ankara appointed five muftis and 299 clerical staff from its Directorate of Religions Affairs, the Diyanet, to the mosques it was building or repairing in Afrin.
The same paper reported that the Turkish Interior Ministry and its General Directorate of Security, which maintains the nation-wide police, created a "Syria Task Force" that installed electronic surveillance and began advising the Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias sharing Afrin's control with Turkey.
Turkey launched the invasion of Afrin in January 2018 on the grounds that the self-declared Kurdish administration there was a "terrorist entity" and endangering its territorial unity, according to Kurdistan 24.
During a two-months intense aerial and ground bombardment, some 160,000 people left their homes and villages until Afrin finally fell to the Turkish army and FSA.
President Erdoğan promised "to give Afrin back to its rightful owners”, which he said were not Kurds, just as Turkey bused in thousands of Arab families and Islamist militias from southern Syria, said the Kurd-friendly news outlet.
“Ankara has increasingly started to make Afrin, along with other population centers under its occupation, look like the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus which it invaded in 1974,” said Kurdistan 24.
“Among foreign nations maintaining a military presence in Syria–including the US, France, Britain, Russia, and Iran–Turkey is the only country hoisting its flag on non-military premises, such as schools, hospitals, mosques, or other sites such as central town squares or even hills in the countryside.”