A Russian force that deployed on Syria’s border with Lebanon has reportedly withdrawn and been replaced by Syrian troops.
The Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters throughout Syria, says the Russian force withdrew Tuesday from the border area on the outskirts of the town of Qusair, a stronghold of the Lebanese Hezbollah group. Russia and the Iran-backed Hezbollah are both fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Al-Mayadeen and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian troops had deployed to the area on Monday. Neither provided details as to why they left.
The rare deployment of Russian forces near the border came amid repeated Israeli warnings about Iran’s growing military presence in Syria. Israel is widely believed to have been behind an airstrike on Qusair last month that killed and wounded Hezbollah fighters.
A Syrian Kurdish militia says it’s pulling out of the key northern Syrian town, potentially easing a serious rift between the United States and Turkey.
The People’s Protection Units, known by their Kurdish acronym YPG, said in a statement on Tuesday that its advisers had completed their mission to train the local forces, the Manbij Military Council, to defend the town of Manbij.
The development follows an announcement Monday from Turkey, saying it had reached an agreement with the U.S. over the future of the town.
Both the YPG and the Manbij Military Council are backed by the U.S., straining Washington-Ankara relations.
Ankara considers the YPG a terror group tied to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey and has demanded the Kurdish fighters leave Manbij for over a year.
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