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U.S. jets conduct airstrike on coalition base as troops leave Syria

By
Darryl Coote

Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Two U.S. fighter jets conducted an airstrike on a U.S. coalition base in northern Syria after it had been vacated to prevent it from being utilized by other forces, a military official said.

Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins said the pre-planned strike at the Lafarge Cement Factory near the Turkish border in Syria targeted an ammunition cache to "reduce the facility's military usefulness."

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The coordinated strike occurred after all personnel and tactical equipment had been removed from the base, he said.

The factory compound had been utilized as the headquarters for the coalition forces' mission targeting the Islamic State in Syria.

Earlier Wednesday, he said coalition forces were withdrawing from northeast Syria and had vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory and the cities of Raqqa and Tabqah.

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On Tuesday, he told Fox News that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which had fought alongside the United States as part of the coalition, had set fire to compound before vacating the area.

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"Our priority is protecting the remaining forces at the LCF as multiple forces converge in northeast Syria," Caggins said. "Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria."

The strike comes as advancing Turkish forces move into northern Syria as part of Operation Peace Spring that began last week to clear it of Kurdish forces it views as terrorists.

The Turkish troops began their advance after U.S. troops were ordered to withdraw from the region by President Donald Trump -- a decision that has been met with national and international condemnation.

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On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to condemn Trump's decision by a vote of 354-60.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in the first week of Operation Peace Spring, 300,000 people have been displaced and 360 SDF forces and 71 civilians, including 21 children, have been killed.

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