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Kurdish forces clear eastern Syria province of IS with 'US and Russia support' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Kurdish forces clear eastern Syria province of IS with 'US and Russia support'

Kurdish forces have control of much of Deir az-Zour province [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 December, 2017

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Kurdish militia the YPG announced they have captured some of the last territories held by IS in eastern Syria's Deir az-Zour countryside.

Syrian-Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia force announced on Sunday they had defeated the Islamic State group in their last territories in Deir az-Zour countryside.

The group said they won control of the eastern province with air support from the US and Russia, in a sign of warming relations between the Syrian-Kurdish force and Moscow.

The Syrian Democratic Forces - which is manned mostly by YPG fighters - acknowledged in a statement they now controlled all territories to the east of the Euphrates in Deir az-Zour due to US and Russian "air and logistical support, advice and coordination on the ground" and the participation of "Arab tribes".

"We hope for an increase in this support and for ensuring the necessary air cover," the Arab-Kurdish alliance added, according to Reuters.

Russian forces from its air base in Latakia province also took part in the offensive on the IS-held village in Deir az-Zour.

The involvement of Russian troops in Kurdish operations follow months of tensions between the YPG and Moscow, after a stand-off between the Syrian regime and the SDF in Deir az-Zour province.

US troops have provided the bulk of the arms and air support to the Kurdish forces in their battles to capture eastern Syrian - including IS' self-declared capital Raqqa.

Washington now appears to be re-considering its support for the Syrian-Kurdish militia after a flare-up with Turkey over the alliance.

This week, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed that US arms supplies to the YPG would end, while heavy weaponry was being returned from the militias.

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