Representatives of 150 Syrian tribes affirmed their support for Turkey's planned operation east of the Euphrates in Syria to eradicate terror threats emanating from the presence of PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) and provide a convenient area for refugees to return. Syrian tribes met in northwestern Azaz province to elect 50 members of a newly established local government body of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians and other local populations in northern Syria. National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Chairman Abdurrahman Mustafa, Astana delegation head Ahmad Touma, tribes' assembly head Abu Najib Rami al-Dos and representatives from Turkmens, Kurdish and Assyrian tribes and many opinion leaders attended the meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, Touma said the main goal of the local government is uniting Syrian people with all ethnic groups in society, adding that the YPG won't continue its oppressive rule east of the Euphrates. "The YPG continues its tyrannical practices east of the Euphrates. But their rule will end soon," he said. In December 2018, Erdoğan announced that Ankara is preparing a third offensive in northern Syria, this time east of the Euphrates, which is dominated by the YPG.
Turkey recognizes the PKK and the YPG as organically linked terrorist groups. The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, has supported the YPG militarily under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The U.S., despite Ankara's warnings, previously supplied truckloads of military support to the YPG, which functions under the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Previously, Turkey conducted two offensives in northern Syria: Operation Olive Branch and Operation Euphrates Shield. The first was launched by Ankara to clear its borders of Daesh terrorists, while the second was to prevent the YPG's ultimate plan of establishing an autonomous region in northern Syria by connecting Afrin to Kobani and Jazeera.
Following the operations, Turkey has also been involved in rebuilding infrastructure and health and educational institutions in the towns. Schools are being renovated and a hospital is being built. Turkey has also helped local people build olive oil facilities in the town where agriculture is the main source of income for residents.
Thanks to the success of both operations and post-operation developments in the liberated areas, the number of refugees returning to their hometowns has increased in recent months.