Russia establishes base in Syria amid spike in violence

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Northeast Syria — President Trump on Wednesday said the ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish forces seems to be holding. But based on what CBS News crews have seen and heard in northeast , the situation is anything but secure. 

It was an unexpected sight to see a pair of Russian attack helicopters in the region, followed moments later by a U.S. military convoy, hauling supplies into Syria. Russia confirmed Thursday it’s setting up a new base in the northern city of Qamishli, right under the noses of U.S. forces.

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Yet for all the security forces now jostling for control, they’ve been unable to ensure security for the local population. Two teenage girls were among five young people killed when back-to-back explosions tore through Qamishli this week.

When the Turkish offensive forced Kurdish troops to pull back, it left the region vulnerable to attacks.

CBS News saw a cemetery reserved for the martyrs. They are 11,000, mostly young men and women, who have been killed in fighting or violence since the conflict began. ISIS claimed most of their lives.

But the Kurds said these recent terror attacks and the military offensive are part of a coordinated Turkish-led campaign of ethnic cleansing to drive them from this area.

U.S defense officials told CBS News that the military has now completed its withdrawal of Kobani. That was the main military hub coordinating that initial U.S. drawdown. But hundreds of troops still remain in this region.

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