Turkish NGO sends Ramadan packages to over 8,000 Syrians in Afrin

Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) nongovernmental organization (NGO) sent Ramadan packages to 8,500 people in Syria’s northern Afrin on Monday.

Zeki Tahiroğlu, IHH’s Syria Reyhanlı regional coordinator, said in a written statement that the organization is continuing to provide aid during Ramadan.

“This year, the Syrian people are spending their 12th Ramadan amid war. We, as we did since this situation started, continue to be on the side of war-weary civilians in Ramadan,” Tahiroğlu said.

“Within this scope, we distributed Ramadan provision packages to 8,500 civilians living in the Afrin city center and rural area in the first week of Ramadan. The distributed packages include dry legumes, breakfast material, tea, sugar, tomato pasta and oil,” he elaborated.

Turkey had liberated Afrin during operation Olive Branch. The operation was launched on Jan. 20, 2018, in cooperation with the Syrian National Army (SNA) and successfully ended on March 24, 2018, six days after Afrin was liberated from the occupation of the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian wing, the YPG.

In harsh land and winter conditions, the operation was conducted against approximately 8,000 to 10,000 YPG/PKK terrorists stationed in the region. While the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the SNA took all the possible measures not to harm civilians and residential areas, the terrorist group tried to use civilians as shields to prevent the operation.

Thanks to the measures taken by Turkish security forces, civilians, who had to flee the region due to the terrorist group’s oppression and the following military operation, started to return to their homes on March 20, 2018. Since then, the population of the district has reached at least 350,000 with rapid improvements in the region’s infrastructure. The priority of the post-operation period for Turkish officials has been to strengthen the security of Afrin, enable the return of civilians and the normalization of daily life.

In search and scanning activities, military bases and ditches dug by the terrorist group and mines and other explosives planted by terrorists were destroyed. In the district, seven local councils have been established to represent democratic rights for the local people. Local councils support various fields and activities including agriculture, industry, trade, culture, sports, health and education for the normalization and revival of life.

In the field of health, a hospital with a capacity of 100 beds and 13 branches was reopened thanks to Turkey’s efforts. In the district, a total of five hospitals and six health centers provide free health care services to the local people. While more than 65,000 students in 263 schools are receiving an education in Afrin and the surrounding residential areas, 135 mosques have opened following reconstruction activities.

Despite all these positive developments, the YPG/PKK continues to target residential areas and civilians in Afrin by using Tal Rifaat, located in the southeast of Afrin, as a base.

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