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Russian troops take command of U.S. airbase in northern Syria

Russian troops take command of U.S. airbase in northern Syria
Russian troops take command of U.S. airbase in northern Syria 01:39

Northern Syria — Russian troops have taken command of a U.S. airbase in northern Syria — and without firing a shot. Russian state media showed commandos staging what looked like a military invasion.

Choppers descending onto the dusty runway, troops taking up combat positions. The Russians are playing up the takeover of the Kobani airfield as a victory.

The former U.S. airbase that served as the main logistical hub for America's fight against ISIS, now with the Russian flag flying above it.

The Russians moved in just a day after U.S. forces moved out, leaving behind barracks, beds, abandoned medical supplies and the skeleton of a gym with weights removed, to render it useless.

Russians have taken command of the Kobani airfield in northern Syria. CBS News

The same can't be said of the runway, however. An American-made landing strip now under Russian management.

It's the second major military expansion in this region in as many days, after Russia announced it had opened up a new helicopter base in Qamishli, which, like Kobani, is also on the Turkish border.

The "repositioning" of U.S. troops mean their footprint has been reduced to patrolling oil fields while partnering with America's Kurdish allies on the ground.

Even top Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobani lamented that the sudden U.S. retreat left him no choice but to turn to the Russians.

In an interview with CBS News, Kobani said they had an understanding with Russia to avoid Turkish attacks on this region. But in the vacuum Americans left behind, they had to fill it with the Russians.

An imperfect solution to a desperate situation, that has now given the Russians the upper hand on the ground.

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