Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made up of an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, unloaded boxes of ammunition, supplied by the US-led coalition, in a village north of Raqa on June 7, 2017. / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN
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Russia's Defense Ministry reported Friday that pro-government forces circled around U.S. military advisers in eastern Syria to reach the Iraqi border, dealing what could be a major blow to the declared U.S. mission to defeat Daesh (ISIS) militants in the vast desert region. The development, if true, would mean Russian-backed pro-government forces have blocked the path of U.S.-backed opposition forces advancing north along the Iraqi-Syrian border, in the direction of the Daesh strongholds of Albukamal and Deir al-Zor, on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria.The two forces have clashed regularly in the area, with U.S. aircraft twice striking Russian-backed forces the Pentagon said were threatening its local allies. By circling around them, the Russian-backed forces have apparently avoided a direct confrontation with U.S.-backed forces based out of Al-Tanf, the border post under U.S. and opposition control.
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