Jarrard, center, and Roebuck, left, were part of a U.S. delegation to Manbij.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russian forces would remain in Syria as long as it was in Moscow's interests, despite earlier announcing Russia's mission in the war-torn country had been largely completed.Syria is Russia's only military foothold in the Middle East, using leased facilities for ships at Tartous and for an air base in Hmeimim.Putin didn't elaborate on under what circumstances Russia could leave or on Moscow's broader strategy for Syria. The Kremlin first launched airstrikes in Syria in September 2015 in its biggest Middle East intervention in decades, turning the tide of the conflict in President Bashar Assad's favor.In December last year, Putin made a surprise visit to Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Syria's Latakia, and declared Russia's mission accomplished, ordering a "significant part" of its contingent to start withdrawing. The head of a local military council said Thursday no Turkish troops or allied Syrian fighters will deploy inside the strategic Syrian town of Manbij following a Turkish-U.S. deal that is expected to see the local U.S.-backed Kurdish militia pull out of the area.
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