Citing US presence, groups withdraw from Turkey-led rebel coalition against ISIL

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Turkish tanks destroy a target in norther Syria.

Several groups have withdrawn from the rebel alliance led by Turkey as part of the Euphrates Shield operation to push back the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from northern Syria in protest of US military assistance to the campaign.

On Friday a group of five or six US Special Force members entered the Syrian border town of al-Rai near the Turkish border to coordinate air strikes, but their presence prompted a protest among rebels in the town, upon which the group had to withdraw from the town, a rebel source told Reuters on Friday.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the incident, but it acknowledged that US Special Forces had accompanied the Turkish troops and vetted Syrian rebels fighting ISIL in northern Syria, near al-Rai and the border town of Jarabulus, which was captured by Turkey-allied rebels last month.

The Turkish military also confirmed in a statement that US Special Forces are supporting the ongoing Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria.

The Turkish media reported on Saturday that several rebel groups announced their pullout from the Turkey-led rebel alliance in protest of the US presence.

Following Ahrar al-Sham, the revolutionary factions of Mare, Al Thuwar al Rifat, Sukhur Jabal and other groups have withdrawn from the coalition, as disagreements between the US and the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA), an umbrella organization for rebel groups, deepen.

In total, eight groups parted ways with the Turkey-led alliance, and how this will affect the ongoing fight against ISIL remains to be seen.

In related news, the Turkish military said in a statement that five ISIL militants were killed in an air strike launched by Turkish fighter jets, and five buildings were destroyed.

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