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Syrian Kurdish Fighters Say They'll Be Trained By Russian Troops

The YPG is a main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main U.S. ally in the ground war against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.

Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria say they will receive military training from Russian troops that have established a presence in the Kurdish enclave of Efrin on the border with Turkey.

Redur Xelil, a spokesman for Kurdish units known as People's Protection Units (YPG), said on March 20 that Russia would provide training in "modern warfare" to the Kurdish militia.

Russia's Defense Ministry rejected the Kurdish claim, saying Russian soldiers were embedded with the YPG in northern Syria to monitor the YPG's cease-fire with rival Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces.

The Russian ministry on March 20 also denied reports that its troops are in Efrin to establish a base, but said it would set up a "reconciliation center" there.

Turkey has labeled the YPG as a terrorist group.

The YPG is a main component of opposition forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the primary ally of the United States in the ground war against so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.

SDF fighters are currently battling to encircle the de facto IS capital, Raqqa.

Efrin is separated from most other territory held by Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, Interfax, and TASS