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U.S. pulls back troops in northeast Syria

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organization that reports on the war, said U.S. forces had withdrawn from an area between the towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.

The U.S. withdrawal will leave Kurdish-led forces in Syria that have long allied with Washington vulnerable to a planned incursion by the Turkish military which brands them terrorists.

It is a major policy shift that was denounced as a “stab in the back” by Kurdish-led forces, who have been Washington’s most capable partners in fighting Islamic State in Syria.

Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where two million Syria refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled.

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