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Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s admission this week that his troops had lost territory to rebel forces and that his generals had to redeploy men to defend areas deemed to be politically and militarily more important, could well be a game changer, possibly heralding the break-up of Syria into ethnic and religious entities.
His announcement to a group of local dignitaries on 26 July of this turning of the tide coincides with an earlier declaration that Turkey is to play a more active role in the Syrian conflict than hitherto. Turkey will set up a ‘safe haven’ or buffer zone on its border with northern Syria to purge Islamic State (IS) jihadists there, and will also launch attacks on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a separatist group which has recently stepped up its attacks on Turkish targets. The PKK is outlawed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU. However its Syrian arm the YPG has received strong US backing in its battles with IS.
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