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Kurdish Red Crescent: IS Attacks Kill at Least 50 in East Syria

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Syrian Democratic Forces
A female fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces stands near a military tank in the village of Abu Fas, Hasaka province, Syria. voa

Islamic State suicide attackers killed at least 50 people in a triple car bomb attack on Thursday among a group of refugees in northeast Syria, a medical source in the Kurdish Red Crescent said.

A large number of people were also injured by the three car bombs, the source said.

The attack took place at Abu Fas, near the border of Deir el-Zour and Hasaka provinces, said a war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said earlier that at least 18 people had been killed.

The dead included refugees fleeing the fighting in Deir el-Zour as well as members of the Kurdish Asayish security force, the observatory reported. Syrian state television said dozens had been killed in the attack.

The jihadist group has lost swaths of its territory in both Syria and Iraq this year and is falling back on the towns and villages of the Euphrates valley southeast of Deir el-Zour.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias is pressing it from the north, and a rival offensive by the Syrian army, supported by allies including Iran and Russia, is attacking it from the west.

On Wednesday, Islamic State said it had carried out an attack in the capital, Damascus, where three suicide bombers detonated their devices near a police headquarters, killing two people and wounding six.

Aid agencies have warned that the fighting in eastern Syria is the worst in the country this year and that airstrikes have caused hundreds of civilian casualties.(VOA)

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Video: US Starts Removing Troops From Syria

Meanwhile, Russia claimed earlier this week it had started doing military patrols in Manbij, tweeting out video, although sources say the Russians likely are not in Manbij proper

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US troops
FILE - U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria..

The U.S.-led coalition in Syria is beginning to remove troops from the country.

The coalition “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” said Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S. coalition fighting the Islamic State terror group. “Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements.”

There are roughly 2,000 U.S. military personnel in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that the withdrawal began late Thursday, when about 10 armored vehicles and other equipment pulled out from a U.S. base in Rmeilan in Hassakeh province. The group also is reporting there were coalition reinforcements that arrived at different bases Thursday, which is consistent with what VOA has learned from a source.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Friday in a radio interview that talks between the U.S. military and its Turkish counterparts regarding the Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Syria will continue next week in an effort to reach an agreement both countries accept. Earlier this week, Bolton’s calls for the protection of the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as a pre-condition to a U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, causing the president to refuse to meet with the U.S. official.

The YPG is a crucial ally in Washington’s war against Islamic State, but Ankara considers it to be a terrorist group linked to an insurgency inside Turkey.

Bolton said in the interview that he, President Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo understood Turkey had committed “not to harm the Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS.”

“What we’re still pursuing in these military-to-military conversations are assurances and protocols and procedures so that everybody feels comfortable with how this is going to happen. And we’re hoping those discussions, which will continue next week, will produce results that are acceptable on both sides,” Bolton said.

Erdogan also warned that preparations were complete for a military operation against the YPG.

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“We will very soon mobilize to eliminate the terrorist organization in Syria,” he said.

“If there are other terrorists who would attempt to intervene in our intervention then it is our duty to eliminate them as well,” Erdogan added. Turkish forces have been massing for weeks along the Syrian border.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed earlier this week it had started doing military patrols in Manbij, tweeting out video, although sources say the Russians likely are not in Manbij proper. (VOA)