Russia steps up its presence in north-east Syria after Turkey deal

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Russian troops have expanded their presence across north-eastern Syria, the result of an agreement between Ankara and Moscow that should end Turkey’s attack on Kurdish-led forces at the price of ending the Kurds’ dreams of local autonomy.

Syrian and Russian media showed footage of Russian military police vehicles on the outskirts of the important towns of Manbij and Kobane on Wednesday, one day after the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, met Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

A statement carried on Russia’s Interfax agency said Russian patrols had already begun inside Manbij, a town that until two weeks ago was a key US base in the region.

The deal was hailed as a “big success” by Donald Trump, although his critics say it cements Russia’s role as prime power broker in the Middle East after the US president’s announcement that American special forces would withdraw from the area.