Graphic shows situation in northern Syria as of October 16.
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MILITARY

Russia moves to fill void left by U.S. in northern Syria

By Mike Tyler

October 16, 2019 - Russia said it was working to prevent a conflict between advancing Turkish and Syrian government forces on Wednesday, as Turkey’s president defied growing pressure and sanctions from Western allies for a cease-fire in northern Syria.

Russia has moved quickly to further entrench its leadership role in the region after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the pullout of American forces in northeastern Syria. The American move effectively abandoned the Kurdish fighters who were allied with the U.S. and cleared the way for Turkey’s invasion aimed at crushing them.

America’s abrupt reversal pushed the Kurds to strike a deal with the Russia-backed government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, inviting its forces to return to regions of northern Syria it had abandoned at the height of the eight-year-old civil war.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is committed to ensuring security in the region as it works to mediate between the Syrian government and Turkey.

Russia already announced that it had deployed troops to the flashpoint town of Manbij to keep apart advancing Syrian government and Turkish-led forces.

Now in its eighth day, Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters has increasingly strained relations with its NATO allies.

Late on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed he would not accept a cease-fire in northern Syria, despite growing pressure from the U.S. and Europe.

PUBLISHED: 16/10/2019; STORY: Graphic News
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