After dominating Turkish politics for a decade, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is entering election season on uncertain footing — without the support of key groups that had powered his previous electoral wins and facing divisions within his own party.
Erdogan, whom critics accuse of cutting an increasingly autocratic figure, faces municipal elections in March that are largely seen as a vote of confidence in his Islamic-based government.
A poor result could weaken Erdogan just as he seeks to shift into the presidency in an August vote while still maintaining enough influence in his party to choose his successor as prime minister in parliamentary elections expected next year.
A simmering rift with Gulen's movement came to a head recently after Erdogan's government announced plans to close the private "cram schools" that prepare high school students for Turkey's highly competitive university entrance exam.
The AKP-Gulen alliance began to crumble after the movement criticized the government's foreign policy over the past few years, including its deteriorating relations with Israel, as well as Erdogan's uncompromising stance toward the domestic protests.
Syrian state media say government troops have taken full control of a western town near country's main north-south highway.
Syrian state TV said President Bashar Assad's army took Nabek Monday morning after "a series of precise operations."