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Syria Live updates: Assad's forces move into an area hit by Turkey



The Syrian army entered the city of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria, state news media reported on Monday, shortly after President Bashar al-Assad's government forged an alliance with the Kurdish forces controlling the region.

The government's return to northeastern Syria not only provides a blow to the Kurdish-led forces supported by the United States, but also signals a major change in Syria's eight-year war

The Syrian government had almost completely been absent from the northeast since it withdrew fight back or be chased out by armed rebels. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that worked with the United States to fight the Islamic State, soon became the region's overall political force.

Although the Syrian Kurds did not declare Mr. Assad's government as an enemy, Mr. Assad distrusted his efforts to establish self-government and promised to resume all of Syria's territory. But he had no way of doing that, especially when US troops remained in the area.

President Trump's decision last week to move these troops out of the way of a Turkish invasion gave Mr. Assad an opening, and his forces began to fill it on Monday.

In some cities, they were welcomed by locals who sang nationalist slogans and carried Mr. Assad's photograph. In other areas, trucks drove a large number of Syrian soldiers into the area to take positions.

Tel Tamer is a strategic intersection linking northeastern Syria with the country's northern hub, Aleppo, and is 20 miles from the Ras al Ain center of the Turkish attack.

If Syrian government forces can reach the Turkish border in the north and the Iraqi border in the east, it would be a major breakthrough in Mr Assad's quest to restore his control over the entire country.

This complexity was reflected in the joint statement: Citing earlier plans by France and Germany "to immediately halt the granting of arms export licenses to Turkey", the ministers said that "the member states are committed to strong national positions regarding their arms export policy to Turkey. "

The decision is expected to be most important for Germany, an important source of arms for Turkey. Britain, France and Italy also sell weapons to Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Monday said his troops would continue to support an invasion of parts of northern Syria, despite Syrian government forces returning.

Speaking at a news conference, Erdogan said a Turkish-backed force would press for attempts to capture Manbij, a city at the intersection of two major highways that the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have been handed over to the Syrian government.

Turkish troops shelled within 550 meters of an American observation post in northern Syria late Friday while US troops were in the area, according to a military situation report obtained by The New York Times.

Since 2016, the United States has maintained several camps in northern Syria, including a post near the city of Kobani, as part of an international alliance fighting the Islamic State.

The military report undermines both US and Turkish stories of the shooting, first reported on Friday by Newsweek. In US news reports over the weekend, unidentified officials claimed in various ways that the Turkish shooting was probably intentional, that it was intense and that it had hit areas on both sides of the US post. In an official statement, the Pentagon said only that Turkish forces had shot down a few hundred meters of US troops.

In response, the Turkish Ministry of Defense said the strike was an accident and that its forces had fired on Kurdish troops about 1,000 yards from the US outpost. But the military progress report calls into question both the anonymous US information meetings and the Turkish account.

A map shows two Turkish artillery strikes two miles west of the US outpost and a strike landing approximately 300 to 500 meters southwest of the post, closer than the Turks acknowledged, but less intense than some US officials have claimed.

The military report said that the shooting near the US post was probably an accident and added that further misunderstandings from Turkish forces could not be ruled out.

The United States had no greater ally to expel Islamic State militants who claimed major battles in Syria in pursuit of a modern caliphate than the coalition of fighters known as Syrian Democratic Forces.

inch by inch, the Kurdish-led militia, working with its US military partners, drove ISIS militants out of their mounts.

But another U rited States ally viewed the militia much less fondly: Turkey. Its leaders looked across its southern border and did not see an ally but a threat to its territorial integrity, given the militia's ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

With Turkish-led forces now threatening the Kurds, S.D.F. has turned the attention of the Islamic State, including the militants who were captured during the war and held in detention camps. Some ISIS members said they had already escaped, along with hundreds of their family members. A planned transfer of five dozen "high-value" prisoners to the United States from Syria never occurred.

Between escaped ISIS members and the Islamist sleeping cells believed to have been left behind when the militants were defeated in Syria, there is concern that the world has not seen the last of the extremist group.

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley, Hwaida Saad, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Anna Momigliano, Anton Troianovski, Eric Nagourney, Russell Goldman and Megan Specia.


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