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Dec 4, 1:03 PM EST

Russia says it provides air cover to Kurds fighting in Syria

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MOSCOW (AP) -- The Russian military says it has provided air cover to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State group in eastern Syria.

Maj. Gen. Yevgeny Poplavsky said that Russian warplanes have flown 672 missions in support of Kurdish and other volunteer units fighting IS east of the Euphrates River.

Poplavsky, speaking at Sunday's meeting involving tribal leaders from eastern Deir el-Zour province, also noted that Russian military advisers helped coordinate their fight against the IS in the east. The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been chasing IS militants along the border with Iraq, capturing oil and gas fields in eastern Syria.

Poplavsky's statement, released Monday by the Russian Defense Ministry, reflects Moscow's efforts to strengthen ties with the Kurds.

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