A fighter holds an Islamic State militant flag in the city of Raqqa, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Asmaa Waguih)
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The Kurdish fighters have battled Daesh in the northeastern part of Deir al-Zor, gaining control of at least four oil fields and one natural gas installation.Starting as a small self-defense unit in northern Syria, the main Kurdish-led militia has become Washington's primary partner in Syria and is now a multi-ethnic force of Kurdish, Arab and Syrian troops that boasts thousands of fighters.The U.S., which maintains bases in northern Syria as well as military advisers that support the SDF, insists that it is not in Syria for the long run.Last year, its troops captured a pocket of territory inside Syria to prevent a contiguous Kurdish hold along the frontier, and earlier this month, it sent troops and tanks into Syria's northwestern Idlib province, in part to curb Kurdish expansion there.Ankara has been vehemently critical of U.S. support for the Kurdish militia in the fight against Daesh and had suggested that Turkey-backed forces liberate Raqqa. In Iraq, Kurdish and Shiite forces are fighting over the spoils of the war against Daesh.Daesh still boasts an active social media presence, and the U.S. military estimates around 6,500 Daesh fighters remain in eastern Syria and western Iraq.
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