Warakii Ugu Dambeeyay

Syria conflict: Russia ‘starts to reduce forces’

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Russia is starting to withdraw forces from Syria and its aircraft carrier group will be the first to leave, the Russian armed forces chief says.

The announcement comes days after Russia and Turkey negotiated a ceasefire in Syria which is largely holding, according to the UN.

Russia has carried out air strikes on anti-government rebels since 2015.

Moscow’s involvement is credited with turning the war in favour of its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander of the Russian armed forces Vladimir Putin, the Russian defence ministry is beginning the reduction of the armed deployment to Syria,” Gen Valery Gerasimov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Tasks set for the carrier group, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov vessel, had been completed, the commander of the Russian force in Syria Col-Gen Andrei Kartapolov was quoted as saying.

Col-Gen Kartapolov said Russia still had sufficient air defence capabilities in its S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems deployed in Syria, AFP news agency reported.

The force reduction follows an order from President Putin on 29 December, days after Syrian government troops finally ousted rebels from the key battleground city of Aleppo in their biggest victory since the uprising against President Assad began in 2011.

Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, is now pushing for peace talks to be held later this month in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.

Russia first launched air strikes in Syria in September 2015, saying they were targeting the fighters of so-called Islamic State.

BBCNEWS

 

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