The Latest: US sets up observation point in Syrian town

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in and related to Syria (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

U.S. forces have set up an observation point in a Syrian town controlled by its Kurdish-led Syrian allies along the border with Turkey in northeastern Syria, the scene of recent tension.

U.S-led coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said Thursday the forces are securing locations for manned observation posts along the border “to support security and stability” in the area. Ryan said the posts are not permanent structures and aim to keep “all parties focusing” on fighting Islamic State group militants, who still have a stronghold to the south.

Tension spiked along the border in recent weeks after Turkey shelled Kurdish positions in northeastern Syria.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. The U.S-led coalition supports the Kurdish-led forces who retook large areas in eastern Syria from IS.

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11:35 a.m.

Syria’s U.N. ambassador says that if Western countries are serious about helping in the return of millions of Syrian refugees to their homeland, they should begin by lifting economic sanctions against the war-torn country.

Bashar Ja’afari spoke on Thursday in the Kazakh capital of Astana where Russia, Turkey and Iran are holding talks with the Syrian government and the opposition. The mediators are speaking separately to the warring sides, which are not meeting face-to-face.

Nearly 6 million Syrians have fled the civil war, now in its eighth year, to neighboring countries and Europe.

Ja’afari says lifting the sanctions imposed on Syria would be “the real test” for the West.

Europe says it will keep its sanctions in place as long as “repression” continues in Syria, extending the measures to 2019.

Categories: International News