(Washington Times) Guy Taylor Tuesday October 15 2019 Russian forces began sweeping in to fill a security void left by withdrawing American troops in northern Syria on Tuesday with Moscow-backed mercenaries taking control of a strategic former U.S. special operations outpost and Russian troops engaging in armored patrols as the new buffer between Turkish and Syrian armies. Video posted on social media by Russian journalists traveling with the mercenaries and Syrian government forces showed abandoned American military tents under camouflage netting as well as other remnants hastily left behind in recent days by U.S. troops near the strategic Syrian town of Manbij. Officials at the Pentagon confirmed that American forces who had manned outposts around Manbij for the past two years have pulled out since President Trump ordered the withdrawal days ago. On Monday the Pentagon said roughly 1000 U.S. troops in Syria would be shifted to other nations in the Middle East. Russias defense ministry said Russian military troops began working their way into frontline areas between Turkish and Syrian army positions in northern Syria on Tuesday. Although Moscow has long backed the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad Russian officials said the goal of the patrols is to prevent clashes with the Turks. The Kremlin said in a statement late Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had spoken by phone about the need to prevent clashes between Turkish and Syrian troops and to prevent thousands of Islamic State militants now in the custody of Syrian Kurds from escaping. President Erdogan reportedly accepted an invitation to visit Moscow in the coming days.
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