Reports: U.S. forces take control of Syrian air base

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U.S. special forces have taken control of an air base in northeastern Syria, according to reports.

The facility, near the city of Rmeilan in Hasakah province, is the first U.S.-controlled air base in Syria.

130A spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the base was handed over to the U.S. to support Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It had been under the control of the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) for over two years.

“Under a deal with the YPG, the U.S. was given control of the airport. The purpose of this deal is to back up the SDF, by providing weapons and an airbase for U.S. warplanes,” Taj Kordsh, an official from the SDF, told Al Jazeera on Jan. 19.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed the U.S. has taken control of the base.

The SDF, founded in October 2015 in Syria’s mainly Kurdish northeastern region, includes at least 15 armed factions with the bulk of fighters coming from the YPG and Free Syrian Army.

The SDF fighters also include Christians, Arabs and about 500 foreign fighters. Some rebel groups in Aleppo and Idlib pledged allegiance to the SDF last month, the group’s spokesman said.