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Russia Praises Syrian Army as It Advances on Kurd-Held Area

Russia has lauded the arrival of Syrian army units at the key strategic town of Manbij after U.S.-backed Kurdish militants appealed for help from the Syrian government due to fears of an imminent Turkish attack. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia welcomed the return of Syrian government forces to Manbij, which is controlled by Kurdish YPG militants who are viewed as a terrorist threat by Turkey for their links to a separatist group, the PKK. “This is definitely a positive step in the direction of stabilizing the situation,” said Peskov. It’s not known whether U.S. troops, who have been patrolling Manbij, were still present when the Syrian army units arrived at the town. The invitation to the Syrian forces by the Kurds, six years after they broke from Damascus, comes after President Trump’s shock decision last week to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Kurdish-held Syria, who acted as a buffer between Turkey and Syria’s Kurds.