Turkish university to open campus in northern Syria

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish university said on Wednesday it would open a campus in one of the northern Syrian regions under the control of Turkey’s military and its Syrian rebel allies, deepening Ankara’s role in an area it has held for nearly two years.

Turkey launched operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 to push back Islamic State and Syrian Kurdish fighters from a swathe of northern Syria west of the Euphrates River, including the towns of Al-Bab, Al-Rai and Jarablus.

Turkey’s Harran University, in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, said it is preparing to open a faculty in Al-Bab for students in towns under Turkish control.

The university will provide education in Turkish, Arabic and English, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

“We wanted to be a door to hope for the youth there, with the aim of aiding our country’s humanitarian endeavors,” rector Ramazan Tasaltin was quoted as saying on Harran University’s website.

The Turkish cabinet has also approved opening a vocational high school in Jarablus affiliated with Gaziantep University, Turkey’s official gazette said on Tuesday.

Turkish administrators are already helping to run hospitals in the area. Schoolchildren in al-Bab study Turkish, while Turkish signposts, Turkish-trained police and a Turkish post office all point to Ankara’s influence in the region.

Turkey launched a second incursion into Syria in January against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the Afrin region. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish militants waging an insurgency on Turkish soil.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans