Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a parliamentary symposium on Jerusalem, in Istanbul, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Service, Pool photo via AP)
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Now, as Syrian government forces capture swaths of eastern Aleppo, threatening to crush the opposition in its most important urban stronghold, Assad and the battle for what was once Syria's biggest city get little more than passing mention.NATO member Turkey has been one of the main backers of Syria's rebels since early in the nearly 6-year-old war.In a speech Tuesday, Erdogan condemned what he said was the failure of the United Nations in Syria and cast Turkey's incursion in August, when it sent tanks, fighter jets and special forces over the border, as an act of exasperation.Turkey's "Operation Euphrates Shield" was not about battling Assad.A senior official from one of the Turkmen rebel brigades backed by Turkey said some 60 percent of Turkmen fighters pulled out of Aleppo in August to take part in Euphrates Shield, withdrawing from front lines against Assad's forces.Just over a year ago, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over Syria, prompting a breakdown in ties that was only resolved in August after Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Erdogan in St. Petersburg.
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