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U.S.-backed Syrian force resumes ground assault on Islamic State

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U.S.-backed Syrian force resumes ground assault on Islamic State

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AMMAN (Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Sunday it had resumed a ground assault against Islamic State in its last foothold near the Iraqi border, following the suspension of the offensive last month after Turkish shelling of northern Syria.

The Kurdish-led SDF said its operations in the Deir al-Zor area had restarted as the result of "intensive contacts between our forces' leadership and the international coalition and active diplomatic efforts aimed at defusing the crisis on the (Turkish-Syrian) border".

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In a statement, the SDF said it was committed to continuing operations "to eliminate (Islamic State)".

The U.S.-led coalition kept up air strikes in the Deir al-Zor area despite the pause in SDF operations.

Turkey views Kurdish influence in northern Syria as a national security threat. The SDF is spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara views as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.

(Reporting by Tom Perry and Suleiman al-Khalidi. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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