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At the same time, the flow of weapons and ammunition from across the border in neighboring Turkey to fighters inside Syria has slowed to a trickle
Rebels say, as Ankara has grown increasingly concerned about the prominent role of Islamic extremists.
“Now, I think, everyone is realizing how much of a problem these extremist groups are,” he added. “At the end of the day, you can’t work with them, and you can’t even count on them to topple Assad.”
The realization that both Assad and the jihadists may endure is prompting what one analyst familiar with government thinking called “adjustments” to Turkey’s policy. Ankara is not going to drop its insistence that Assad must go, he said, but it is exploring more nuanced ways to pursue the objective.
Erdogan has softened his once-colorful anti-Assad rhetoric, denounced the al-Qaeda-affiliated groups active in Syria and reached out to some former friends who had been alienated by his staunch support for the Syrian opposition, including Iraq and Iran.