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News > World

Anti-Assad Rebels Kick US Special Forces out of Syrian Town

  • US special operations forces in Syria

    US special operations forces in Syria | Photo: AFP/Archive

Published 16 September 2016

"Down with America," the rebels chanted. "Get out you dogs," they continued. "They are coming to Syria to occupy it."

U.S. special operations forces were immediately kiched out of the Syrian town of al-Rai near the Turkish border on Friday by anti-government rebels, according to video footage released online.

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The "five or six" U.S. military personnel, who reportedly entered Syria to coordinate rebel attacks on the Islamic State group, were forced to withdraw towards the Turkish border after Syrian rebels protested against their presence in the town, a rebel source told Reuters.

In a video circulated on the internet purportedly showing the incident, fighters in al-Rai chanted anti-U.S. slogans and threatened violence against them as a number of vehicles drove out of the area. "Down with America," "Get out you dogs," and "They are coming to Syria to occupy it," the rebels chanted. Voices in the background called the US troops “pigs” and “crusaders,” according to RT.

A U.K.-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the incident and said the U.S. forces had left al-Rai but were still on Syrian soil.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial reports appeared to confirm the incident.

The Pentagon acknowledged that U.S. special operations forces are currently accompanying Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces battling Islamic State group forces in and around the area of the Syrian border near al-Rai and the town of Jarablus, further east.

Turkey's military said in a statement that U.S. special forces were supporting an operation being carried out in northern Syria against Islamic State group militants along the border as part of operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched last month. In recent weeks Turkish-backed forces have pushed the jihadists away from the frontier.

The Turkish operation also aims to push U.S.-backed Kurdish forces away from the border and prevent them from creating a contiguous, autonomous region along Turkey's border. Clashes between Turkish-allied forces and the Kurdish YPG militia, a key U.S. partner in the fight against Islamic State group, have caused tension between Washington and Ankara.

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