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Putin: Russian forces to withdraw from Syria


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the defence ministry to begin the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria on Tuesday.

“The task that was set before our defence ministry and armed forces has as a whole been completed and so I order the defence ministry to from tomorrow start the withdrawal of the main part of our military contingents from the Syrian Arab Republic,” Putin told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in televised comments.

The Kremlin also said Putin and Syria leader Bashar al-Assad agreed on the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria in a phone call.

Putin also asked his foreign ministry to intensify Russia’s role in brokering a peace deal in Syria.

The Russian leader said Moscow’s work in the country had created the necessary conditions for the peace process.

Meanwhile, the Syrian presidency said that Russia has agreed to reduce the presence of Russia’s air force in Syria after it helped the Syrian army make military gains.

It said Assad and Putin agreed the move in a telephone call, saying it was in line with “the continuation of the cessation of hostilities and in accordance with the situation on the ground.”

It said Russia also pledged to continue its support for Syria in “combating terrorism.”

In reaction, US officials said Washington has not yet seen indications of preparations for a Russian withdrawal from Syria.

Syrian opposition welcomes move

Syria’s opposition on Monday, meanwhile, welcomed Russia’s announcement, saying a serious withdrawal would put pressure on Syrian authorities and give peace talks a positive impetus.

“If there is seriousness in implementing the withdrawal, it will give the talks a positive push,” said Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the rebel High Negotiations Committee.

“If this is a serious step it will form a major element of pressure on the regime, because the Russian support prolonged the regime. Matters will change significantly as a result of that.”

Al Arabiya English