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    Rebel fighters from the First Battalion under the Free Syrian Army take part in a military training on June 10, 2015, in the rebel-held countryside of the northern city of Aleppo

    'Terrorists Stand No Chance Against Assad' as Turkey Sides With Russia on Syria

    © AFP 2017/ BARAA AL-HALABI
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    Ankara has long supported radical groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad, but following a failed attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey's upper echelons of power have had a change of heart, siding with Russia when it comes to the Syrian conflict, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.

    The online newspaper pointed to the fact that Turkish authorities closed the country's only official border crossing with the rebel-held province of Idlib, Bab al-Hawa, after the botched coup as evidence of a foreign policy U-turn.

    The media outlet further noted that this decision could be interpreted as Ankara having closed its border with the neighboring war-torn country, something that the international community has long called for.

    Radical groups, including Daesh, al-Nusra Front and the like have used Turkey's porous border with Syria to smuggle fighters, weapons and supplies in and out of the battlefield. But it appears to have become increasingly hard to do so.

    "Mercenaries, who until recently received support [from the outside], hardly stand a chance against President Bashar al-Assad," the media outlet noted.

    Earlier this month, Turkey signaled that it wanted to improve its relations with Syria.

    "It is our greatest and irrevocable goal: Developing good relations with Syria and Iraq, and all our neighbors that surround the Mediterranean and the Black Sea," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on July 13. "We normalized relations with Russia and Israel. I'm sure we will normalize relations with Syria as well."

    These comments and other remarks made by Turkish officials came as a sharp contrast to Ankara's previous stance on the embattled Arab country. In the months following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Erdogan and his supporters provided assistance to groups trying to overthrow al-Assad, once an ally of the Turkish president.

    Syrian government forces secure a street as civilians come back to the neighbourhood of Bani Zeid, on Aleppo's northern outskirts on July 29, 2016
    © AFP 2017/ GEORGE OURFALIAN
    Syrian government forces secure a street as civilians come back to the neighbourhood of Bani Zeid, on Aleppo's northern outskirts on July 29, 2016

    Turkey's new strategy in Syria has "greatly contributed" to Moscow and Damascus' efforts to push the militants from Aleppo, one the most populous city in the country, DWN asserted.

    In the last 24 hours, Daesh and al-Nusra Front fighters shelled several areas in Aleppo, including the Kostello trade center, as well as the neighborhoods of al-Zahraa, al-Khalidiyah, Leramon and Sheikh Maqsood, the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic reported on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, 169 civilians and 69 rebel fighters who agreed to lay down their weapons have left Aleppo through four safe corridors opened by the Syrian Arab Army as part of a major humanitarian operation launched by Moscow and Damascus.

    "We are feeling good now because we are under the protection of the army, may God protect them. We suffered a lot in order to be able to come here," the Associated Press quoted a Syrian woman as telling state TV.

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    Tags:
    foreign policy, Islamic extremism, radical Islam, counterterrorism, Al-Nusra Front, Daesh, Binali Yildirim, Bashar al-Assad, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia, Aleppo, Turkey, Syria
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