In this Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Konstantin palace outside St.Petersburg, Russia.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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For five years fighting has raged in Syria – a humanitarian disaster destabilizing the region and the world.Now an inflection point may be at hand, with powerful opposition-backer Turkey suggesting Assad, despite his brutality in the war, could play a role in an unspecified transition period.The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Islamist-rooted while Assad is avowedly secularist.The Syrian Kurds have emerged as the main force fighting Daesh, affording them a great deal of autonomy in their enclave in the north of the country, bordering Turkey.Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst with the Eurasia Group consultancy, said Turkey's position on Assad is becoming significantly more flexible as Russia plays a more active role, and that the Syrian government's recent and unprecedented bombing of U.S.-backed Kurdish positions sought to show Ankara that Assad is the only serious partner who can guarantee that Syria's Kurds remain contained.For its new openness to Assad to prevail, it would need to be adopted by other players, primarily the mainstream Syrian rebels and the key powers of the West.The Syrian war in particular has had disastrous consequences across a wide area: a half million killed, half the country's population displaced and millions of refugees flooding not only Turkey and other neighboring countries but also Europe, fueling xenophobia and economic difficulties.
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