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Russian Troops Quickly Move to Fill US Void

Kremlin says units now patrolling in northern Syria
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2019 8:43 AM CDT
Women sit on top of a pickup as they travel along a road near Hasakeh, about 100km south of the border with Turkey, in northeastern Syria, on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.   (Alan Ali/WFP via AP)
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(Newser) – Russia isn't wasting much time getting troops on the ground in the part of Syria vacated by American forces. On Tuesday, the Kremlin announced that Russian troops were on patrol between Syrian and Turkish troops near the northern town of Manbij. The Washington Post and the New York Times sound similar themes in coverage: Moscow, which is a strong backer of Syria, is "moving to fill a security vacuum after U.S. troops were withdrawn," says the Post. And from the Times: "The announcement that Russian forces were now patrolling an area where the United States had maintained two military bases until Monday appeared to signal that Moscow was moving to fill a security void left by the American withdrawal."

Meanwhile, new friction emerged between Russia and Turkey over the latter's incursion into Syria. Russia's Syrian envoy called the military action "unacceptable" and said Moscow had not been notified in advance. "We had always urged Turkey to show restraint and always considered some kind of military operation on Syrian territory unacceptable," said Alexander Lavrentiev, per Reuters. The comments come a day after President Trump announced new penalties against Turkey over the offensive. The UN estimates that 160,000 people have been displaced in the fighting that began about a week ago, after Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from the area. (Another worry: The US has dozens of nuclear weapons stored at a military base in Turkey.)

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