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US Troops Poised to 'Stay' in Syria as DoS Official Visits Kurdish-Held Areas

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidUS forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017.
US forces are seen at the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017. - Sputnik International
In late June, the US reportedly started to establish a new military base near the northern Syrian city of Manbij, already the third in the area, amid previous reports about the US forces' upcoming withdrawal from Syria.

Visiting the cities of Manbij and Kobani in northern Syria's Aleppo province on Sunday, State Department representative William Roebuck pointed out that the US troops are "prepared to stay here, as the President [Donald Trump] has made clear, to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS [Daesh*]."

Roeback added that Washington also "remains focused on ensuring the withdrawal of Iranian forces and their proxies as well", in an apparent nod to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement.

READ MORE: Trump Wants Saudis, 'Other Rich Countries' to Pay as US Slashes Aid for Syria

He is also due to pay visits to Hasakah province's town of Shaddadah and some areas in the province of Deir ez-Zor held by US-backed Kurdish militants.

Roeback's visit to Manbij and Kobane came after the Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday accused the US, the UK and France of preparing to carry out new strikes against Syria under the pretext of chemical weapons use by Syrian government forces.

In late June, Helil Bozi, a commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)'s local military council, told Sputnik that "the US is establishing a new military base near Manbij", in addition to the Americans already having two such bases in the city, "along the road leading to Aleppo, and in Eyn Dedat close to the Sajir River."

READ MORE: German Bundestag Committee: Russia's Syria Campaign is Legal, US Should Leave

In a separate development that month, an SDF source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Sputnik that the US is boosting its military presence in Deir ez-Zor, sending 250 trucks as well as Hummers, heavy weapons, and pick-ups to the SDF, as part of the operation against Daesh.

In April, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the US military's Central Command, reportedly arrived in Israel to reassure the head of the National Security Council, the IDF Chief of Staff and other senior defense officials that Americans have no "immediate plans" to leave Syria.

READ MORE: 10-Year Deal: PYD Official Explains Why US Won't Halt Support to SDF

Earlier that month, President Donald Trump announced that the US troops would be withdrawing from Syria "very soon," in a move that was reportedly followed by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding a "tough" phone conversation with Trump.

Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) fighters stand with their weapons north of Raqqa city, Syria March 8, 2017 - Sputnik International
Arms Provided to SDF 'Limited, Mission-Specific' - US-Led Coalition
Netanyahu allegedly voiced his concerns that if US forces leave Syria, it would enable Israel's enemies, Iran and its affiliates, to gain a foothold in the area.

Both Russia and Iran, alongside Turkey, are the guarantor states of the Syrian ceasefire agreement. There are Iranian-backed armed groups fighting on the side of Damascus in the Syrian conflict, with President Bashar Assad saying, however, that no Iranian troops are operating on Syrian territory.

There are some 5,000 troops currently deployed at more than 20 US military bases set up in areas of northern Syria controlled by the SDF.

Since September 2014, the United States and its allies have been carrying out airstrikes on what they describe as Daesh targets without a UN mandate or Damascus' authorization; the military campaign has consistently been denounced by the Syrian authorities as "illegal."

*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia

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