Objectives attained: Russia withdraws troops from Syria

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Objectives attained: Russia withdraws troops from Syria
  • Announcement concerns ground forces
  • Naval and air support to be maintained
  • Russia to “intensify” its role in the peace process

The news

The Russian President has ordered his military to start withdrawing “the main part” of its forces from Syria.

The tasks set out by the Defence Ministry have been largely fulfilled

The announcement has taken the international community by surprise.

Vladimir Putin says the Russian intervention has met its objectives, five months after forces were sent in to support President Bashar al-Assad.

Analysts say Russian support tipped the balance in favour of the Syrian government.

What will happen on the ground?

The announcement only concerns military support on the ground. Naval and air support will be maintained.

The pullout will begin on Tuesday.

A timeline for withdrawal has not been set.

Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Officials say he is aware of the decision.

What is the context?

Moscow’s decision comes as fresh peace talks get underway in Geneva aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict, which began five years ago this week.

Putin has also ordered that Russia intensify its role in the peace process to end the conflict.

What they are saying

“The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,”Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country’s action paved the way for the Syrian ceasefire.