TALL ADH-DHAHAB, Syria—A convoy of armored vehicles flying American flags, machine gunners perched atop their tall metal frames, rumbled into this village of dirt roads and concrete houses in northeast Syria last week.

They are a familiar sight in the area. Over scalding hot glasses of tea, U.S. Army officers and their allies in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces met with local men to ask about security threats now that Islamic State forces are in retreat.

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