Russia Takes Over Syria Base Left by U.S. Forces

Forces enter strategic point near former ISIS capital days after American troops leave

Russian forces patrol in the city of Amuda, north Syria, October 24, 2019.
Baderkhan Ahmad/AP

Russian military police have taken control of a base near the Syrian city of Raqqa that was controlled by U.S. forces until a few days ago, the TASS news agency reported on Thursday.

Russian forces entered the nearby city of Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State caliphate, earlier this month as Moscow rushed to fill a vacuum created by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops from northern Syria.

The base, a former school in the village of Tal Samin, is in a strategic area at a crossroads that links the city of Raqqa with central Syria and its northern regions, the state news agency said.

It cited Arman Mambetov, a Russian military policeman, as saying that he and colleagues would begin patrolling the surrounding area from Thursday.

Russian forces in Tal Samin, December 26, 2019.Zvezda TV

The Russian Defense Ministry's Zvezda TV channel showed two Russian military policemen running up the Russian flag at the base and a column of Russian military police vehicles entering.