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With US focused on vote, Russia takes advantage in Syria

With Barack Obama's presidency coming to a close and US policy for Syria at an impasse, Vladimir Putin's Russia has stepped up efforts to secure its ally Bashar al-Assad in power. US officials fear the Kremlin is racing to consolidate its gains in Syria before a new, possibly tougher administration takes charge, but there is little sign of a clear new policy emerging. On Tuesday, Republican flag-bearer Donald Trump's vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence split from his candidate's admittedly vague position by calling for air strikes against Assad's forces.
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