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The Latest: Syria says it expelled IS from eastern desert

The Latest on the situation in Syria (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Syria’s military says it has expelled the Islamic State group from the country’s vast eastern desert.

The military says it’s cleared about 5,800 square kilometers — or 2,200 square miles — of the expanse linking its heartland to the Iraqi border in the east.

Gen. Ali Mayhoub said in a televised statement on Wednesday that with the help of the air force, the Syrian army achieved this task in the desert of Deir el-Zour province. Mayhoub says the military will continue to chase remnants of the “terrorists” from Syria.

Separately, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, led by Kurdish fighters, are battling IS militants in pockets along the Iraqi border to the north.

Analysts warn of a clash between the U.S-backed forces and the Syrian troops, backed by Russia and Iranian-affiliated militia, over control of the oil-rich province as IS collapses.

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4:35 p.m.

France has named its ambassador to Iran as the country’s special envoy for Syria.

The appointment on Wednesday of Francois Senemaud as personal representative of President Emmanuel Macron was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting.

The 61-year-old Senemaud begins his new job on August 27.

He served as French ambassador to Iran since mid-2016. A replacement for Tehran hasn’t been announced yet.

Before his appointment to Iran, Senemaud served for four years as intelligence director for the DGSE, the agency charged with security abroad.

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3:40 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says at least six people have been killed in two car bomb attacks in a northern Syrian enclave controlled by Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters.

Anadolu Agency says Wednesday’s explosions, which also wounded about 20 people, took place in the center of the town of Afrin.

Turkish military and allied Syrian forces captured the town and its environs in March, driving away a Kurdish militia which had controlled the region.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, as “terrorists” linked to outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting within Turkey.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombings. Anadolu says the attacks are being investigated. The private DHA agency, without citing a source, blamed Kurdish fighters.

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11:15 a.m.

The Norwegian Refugee Council has urged Jordan to take in thousands of Syrians who it says have “nowhere else to turn” as they flee an advance into southern Syria by President Bashar Assad’s forces.

The international aid group said Wednesday that Jordan, which already hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrians, cannot be expected to shoulder the burden alone.

It says the international community must “offer substantial support,” and that aid groups are ready to help potential new arrivals settle in Jordan’s Azraq camp. The council says Azraq could house 80,000 more people.

U.N. officials have said some 50,000 Syrians have been uprooted in the past week of fighting in the Daraa province, on the sealed border with Jordan.

Jordanian officials said this week the country can’t accept more refugees.

Source: ABC News

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