Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Russian forces sweep into U.S. base abandoned in Syria

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. 

By Guy Taylor 
The Washington Times 
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Russian mercenary forces have begun sweeping in to fill a security void left by withdrawing U.S. troops in northern Syria, with a video online showing the Moscow-backed mercenaries taking control Tuesday of what was previously an American military outpost.

The video, posted on social media by Russian journalists reportedly traveling with Syrian government forces and Russian mercenaries, showed tents under camouflage netting and other apparent military remnants left behind by U.S. troops near the Syrian town of Manbij.

Russia’s defense ministry said Tuesday that Russian military troops were separately patrolling front line areas between Turkish and Syrian army positions near Manbij as part of a Moscow-backed effort to keep the Turks and Syrians from clashing around the town.

Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces in the area — now in its seventh day — has upended the complex mix of ground-force alliances inside Syria, where civil war has gone on for nearly a decade and the Islamic State terror group once held significant territory.

The Associated Press framed Tuesday’s developments as an example of quick moves by U.S. rival Russia to entrench its de facto power broker role after President Trump ordered the pullout of American forces in northeast Syria.

The American move effectively abandoned the Kurdish fighters, whom Washington had previously relied upon to wage a ground war against the Islamic State, and opened the door for the Turkish invasion aimed at crushing the Kurds.

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A Kurdish political administration in the area has scrambled this week to strike a deal with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces began on Sunday deploying in Kurdish-administered areas to shield them against Turkey.

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