Global Independent Analytics

Russia to withdraw forces from Syria

Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu gave the order to withdraw and aircraft are being loaded up for long-range flights back to Russia.

Michael Pearson in his article for CNN reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday that he has ordered Russian forces to begin withdrawing from Syria, saying they have achieved their goals in the country.

The state-run news agency Sputnik informed that the withdrawal is expected to begin on Tuesday, March 15. Putin assumed that the task that has been assigned to the Defense Ministry fully achieved its goal and that condition elicited the decision to pull the military forces back from Syria.

Russian airstrikes first took place in September 2015, when the government decided to support Syrian authorities in a civil war that is now five years old.

Pearson provides a quote: "The two leaders noted that the operations conducted by Russia's Aerospace Forces have brought about a real turnabout in the fight against the terrorists in Syria, throwing their infrastructure into disarray and causing them substantial damage," the Kremlin said. "In this context, Mr. Putin said that Russia's Armed Forces have fulfilled their main mission in Syria and a timetable for the withdrawal of the Aerospace Forces' main air grouping has been agreed. Russia will maintain an aviation support centre in Syria in order to monitor compliance with the ceasefire."

According to Kremlin officials, Syrian President Bashar Assad has noted the professionalism and heroism of the Russia military personnel who have provided rather substantial help in fighting terrorism.

The withdrawal has also become the main topic of the conversation between Vladimir Putin and U.S.President Barack Obama. "They discussed President Putin's announcement today of a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria and next steps required to fully implement the cessation of hostilities with the goal of advancing the political negotiations on the resolution of the conflict. President Obama welcomed the much-needed reduction in violence since the beginning of the cessation, but stressed that continuing offensive actions by Syrian regime forces risk undermining both the Cessation of Hostilities and the UN-led political process," Pearson cites a statement from the White House.

Meanwhile, peace talks on Syria in Geneva resumed the same day as the military withdrawal was announced (and one cannot underestimate the timing and the symbolism). Analysts admit that the Russian intervention did help push back rebel and bolster Assad’s position and some suppose that Putin is sending a message to military forces in the Syrian region to reach a political solution.

"If a Russian troop withdrawal materializes, it would put President Assad under pressure to finally seriously negotiate a peaceful political transition in Geneva that would ensure the continuation of a Syrian state," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

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