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Turkey might seek more than mere reconstruction in northern Syria

Turkey’s ambitious and costly reconstruction projects in the Jarablus/al-Rai/al-Bab triangle of northern Syria suggest comprehensive society-building.
JARABLUS, SYRIA - AUGUST 31: Members of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) patrol in the border town of Jarablus, August 31, 2016, Syria. Turkish troops and Turkey-backed rebels have been fighting Kurdish-led forces and IS since Turkey's incursion into Syria on Aug. 24. with the swift capture of Jarablus, a town a few km inside Syria that was held by Islamic State.(Photo by Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images)

Turkey has been working to rebuild the 772-square-mile (2,000-square-kilometer) Jarablus/al-Rai/al-Bab triangle in northern Syria, dedicating funds for post-conflict reconstruction and humanitarian aid. The Islamic State (IS) was driven out of the area's 250 settlements during Operation Euphrates Shield (August 2016-March 2017).

Since March, about 70,000 Syrians have returned to the triangle from Turkey. About 100,000 more are expected to be repatriated by the end of 2017. About 45,000 of the returnees have settled in Jarablus, where Turkey’s ambitious post-conflict reconstruction efforts fall into two groups: physical construction work and society-building. Ankara has decided to make Jarablus a center of attraction in the post-IS setting and use it as a model for the rest of the region. That's why Turkey assigned experienced administrators, police chiefs and muftis (religious officials) as consultants to the Syrian decision-makers of Jarablus.

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