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Syria: Russia begins withdrawing troops

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters, BBC
Syria: Russia begins withdrawing troops

Russia has reportedly begun a draw down of its military forces in Syria.

The news comes from the TASS news agency, who quotes the head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov.

“In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, (President) Vladimir Putin, the Russian Defence Ministry is beginning to reduce its armed forces deployment in Syria.”

Naval fleet first

Gerasimov said Russia’s naval fleet would be the first to return.

Led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, it has been operating in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast.

December agreement

Vladimir Putin said in December that Russia had agreed to reduce its military deployment in Syria.

The agreement forms part of the terms of a ceasefire deal between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government.

In short

  • News comes days after Russia and Turkey negotiated the latest ceasefire
  • Russia has targested anti-government rebels with air strikes since 2015
  • Analysts say Moscow’s support has turned the war in favour of the Syrian regime