Russia pulls out
Moscow: Russia has begun to withdraw military equipment from Syria, the defence ministry said yesterday, after Moscow announced it would pull the bulk of its forces from the war-torn country.
“Technicians at the (Hmeimim) airbase have begun preparing aircraft for long-range flights to airbases in the Russian Federation,” the defence ministry said in a statement, adding that military equipment was being loaded onto the planes.
This file picture from the Russian Defence Ministry's official Facebook page on November 26, 2015 shows Russia's S-400 air defence missile systems at the Hmeimim air base in Syria. Pics/AFP
Pressure on Assad
President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday night that Moscow was set to withdraw the “most part” of its troops in Syria, ending its controversial bombing campaign. The move, which came as peace talks to end the five-year conflict were underway in Geneva, is expected to put more pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s long-standing ally, to negotiate a solution to end the war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow’s Hmeimim air base in Syria and its Tartus naval facility would remain functional and that some military contingents would stay behind. He did not, however, give any details on how many soldiers would stay in Syria, nor whether Russia’s S-400 air defence systems and combat planes would remain in the country.
Geneva: Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, yesterday hailed Russia’s partial military withdrawal from the war-ravaged country as a "significant development". He said in a statement, "We hope (this) will have a positive impact on the progress of the negotiations in Geneva aimed at achieving a political solution of the Syrian conflict."