BEIRUT: A small number of U.S. forces entered the Syrian town of al-Rai near the Turkish border Friday as part of operations to coordinate airstrikes against ISIS, a senior rebel source said.


However, the five or six U.S. military personnel were then forced to withdraw back towards the Turkish border after Syrian rebels protested against their presence in the town, the source said.


A pro-opposition activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the incident and said the U.S. forces had left al-Rai but were still on Syrian soil.


Turkish-backed rebels have been battling ISIS militants along the border as part of operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched last month, and in recent weeks pushed the extremists away from the frontier with the support of Turkish warplanes and tanks.


The rebel source said the U.S. forces had entered al-Rai as part of that operation.


In a video circulated on the internet purportedly showing the incident, fighters in al-Rai chanted anti-U.S. slogans and threatened violence against them as a number of vehicles drove out of the area.


The Turkish operation also aims to push U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, which have separately been fighting ISIS, away from the border.


Clashes between Turkish-allied forces and the Kurdish YPG militia, a key U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS, have caused tension between Washington and Ankara.


Daily Star