Tags: Syria | Syria | conflict | Russia | army | Vladimir Putin | Bashar al-Assad

Putin Orders Partial Russia Troop Withdrawal From Syria

Putin Orders Partial Russia Troop Withdrawal From Syria
(Reuters)

Monday, 11 December 2017 06:20 AM

President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria during a surprise visit to the war-torn country.

Russia first intervened in the conflict in 2015, staging air strikes in support of its ally Damascus targeting both the Islamic State group and other jihadists as well as rebels fighting government troops.

"I order the defense minister and the chief of general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases," Putin said in a televised speech as he visited Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Syria.

"I have taken a decision: a significant part of the Russian troop contingent located in Syria is returning home to Russia."

Putin, who was welcomed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the troops had helped the Syrian army crush the "most battle-ready group of international terrorists," apparently referring to the Islamic State group.

Speaking to the Russian troops at the base, Putin added in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that "if the terrorists again raise their heads, we will deal such blows to them they have never seen."

"Our homeland thanks you, my friends," Putin said. "Have a safe trip. I thank you for your service."

Putin and Assad were pictured smiling and shaking hands.

Putin made a stopover at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia while en route to Egypt. The base, in the heartland of Syrian President Bashar Assad's Alawite minority, has served as the main foothold for the Russian military campaign in Syria.

Putin said last month that efforts to end the war were entering a "new stage" as the focus shifted from military intervention to political reform.

More than 340,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against Assad's rule that sparked a brutal crackdown.

The visit marks Putin's first trip to Syria and comes as Assad's forces have retaken control over most of Syria under the Russian air cover.

Russia launched its air campaign in Syria on Sept. 30 2015 when Assad's government was teetering on the brink of collapse and helped change the course of the conflict in its favor.

Putin's visit follows the Russian announcement last week that the Syrian army under the Russian air cover routed the Islamic State in eastern Syria and fully restored control over the border with Iraq

© AFP 2019

   
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President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria during a surprise visit to the war-torn country. Russia first intervened in the conflict in 2015, staging air strikes in support of its ally Damascus targeting both the Islamic...
Syria, conflict, Russia, army, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad
393
2017-20-11
Monday, 11 December 2017 06:20 AM
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