Soldiers retreat as Russian forces pass through Syrian,Turkish troops

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Russia said Tuesday that it was patrolling between Syrian and Turkish forces after the United States confirmed it had pulled its troops out of northeastern Syria.

Russia, whose role as Syria’s predominant foreign power has grown, said the patrols were taking place after the regime — invited to return by Kurdish forces who lost their US patrons — took control of Manbij.

“The Syrian government army has full control over the city of Manbij and nearby settlements,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

“Russian military police continue to patrol the northwestern border area of Manbij district along the line of contact between the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkish armed forces,” it said.

“Cooperation is organised with the Turkish side.”

A spokesman for the US-led coalition confirmed its forces had pulled out of the area.

“Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. We are out of Manbij,” the spokesman said.

Syrian forces have moved into several Kurdish-controlled areas as part of a deal to protect the region from an assault by Turkish forces.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the situation with his US counterpart Mark Esper in a phone conversation on Tuesday.

The two talked about matters of “mutual interest” relating to the Turkish offensive, the Russian ministry said in a statement without giving any more detail.

President Donald Trump pulled out US troops, effectively allowing Turkey to invade, as he voiced impatience with what he said was a wasteful mission.

A US official said that Moscow and Washington were using established channels to avoid conflict and played down the number of Russians on the ground.

“The number of Russians is very, very limited. But it only takes a few Russians with a big Russian flag to get everybody to pay attention,” the senior administration official told reporters in Washington.

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