HomeNewsRussia 'starts to withdraw' forces from Syria

Russia ‘starts to withdraw’ forces from Syria

Russia has started to cut back its forces in Syria, beginning with an aircraft carrier group, Russian state news agency TASS reported Friday.

Warships led by Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, will be the first to leave the conflict area, the chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, is quoted as saying.
It is not clear if the Kuznetsov’s warplanes will leave with it or if any will stay behind in Latakia, Syria.
The reported initial withdrawal of forces come as a nationwide ceasefire — negotiated between Russia, Turkey and the Syrian government as well as Iran and Syrian rebel groups late last year — largely holds across the country, according to the United Nations.
Russia’s air strikes since 2015 in support of the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been crucial in helping them to gain the upper hand in the long-running conflict and pushing rebel fighters from the key city of Aleppo in December.
The decision to cut Russia’s military presence in Syria was made by Putin at the recommendation of his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on December 29, according to Russia’s state-run agency Sputnik.
If the ceasefire holds, peace negotiations are slated to take place in late January in Kazakhstan.
But rebel groups have complained of “Syrian regime violations” since the ceasefire came into force December 30 and warned that they could boycott the talks if they continue.

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