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At US outpost in Syria, US general backs Kurdish fighters

At US outpost in Syria, US general backs Kurdish fighters
Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 16:45

On the ground in Syria, the top U.S. general in the coalition fighting the Islamic State group pledged on Wednesday that American troops would remain in the northern Syrian town of Manbij despite Ankara’s demands for a U.S. pullout.

“We’re here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area,” Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij. ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.

The U.S.-backed opposition Syrian Democratic Forces, led mainly by a Syrian Kurdish militia which Turkey is now fighting in Syria, liberated the town of Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016.

Manbij was hailed as an early success story in the American-backed fight against IS, but is now the scene of escalating regional tensions on the heels of military victories against the extremists.

Funk’s visit came amid rising tensions between Turkey and the United States — NATO allies that have ended up on opposing sides in some aspects of the multi-layered war in Syria.

Today, a small U.S. base near Manbij — a cluster of a handful of tents, prefab housing units and American armored vehicles — reflects deepening American involvement in Syria. Since the ouster of IS from the border town, the U.S. has maintained a military presence there and regularly conducts patrols in the area.