Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that his government will withdraw some its military from Syria six months after the Kremlin began airstrikes in the region.
“The effective work of our military created the conditions for the beginning the peace process,” explained Putin. “I hope today’s decision will be a good signal to all the conflicting sides. I hope this will significantly increase the level of confidence of all participants of the settlement process in Syria and will contribute to the solution of the Syrian issue through peaceful means.”
They will begin the pullout on Tuesday.
“I am therefore ordering the defence minister, from tomorrow, to start the withdrawal of the main part of our military contingent from the Syrian Arab Republic,” he added.
Russia will continue using their air force and Navy in Syria.
“The leaders noted that the action of the air force of Russia had radically changed the situation in the fight against terrorism, disrupting the fighters’ infrastructure and inflicting significant damage,” stated the Kremlin.
Putin allegedly decided to withdraw the military on his own, without requests from his advisers, reports note. He also told the news to Syrian dictator personally on the telephone.
In the last week, the Syrian forces have pushed the Islamic State back to Raqqa, their self-declared capital of their caliphate. The forces regained Khanasser and killed many Islamic State fighters with help from Russia and Hezbollah troops.
Syrian peace talks began in Geneva this week with Russia, sponsored by the United Nations. It includes a special delegation from Syria.
However, some believe Putin’s intentions are a ploy.
“Putin is just sending a message herein that he is ‘in control’ in Syria, and he can force Assad to the negotiating table, if or when he so wishes,” stated Tim Ash, head of emerging-market strategy at Nomura in London.
He also believes that “Putin is also trying ‘to reinforce on the West that Russia can brings lots of ‘solutions’ in Syria, and all this still seems to be a Russian negotiating ploy with the West.'”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed the country has evidence that Turkey has expanded in their mission in Syria.
“According to our information, they are digging in a few hundred meters from the border inside Syria,” he said.
Lavrov said the Kremlin believes that Turkey wants to “prevent Kurdish groups there from consolidating their positions” right across the Syrian border. The Turkish authorities also “imposed curfews on two mainly Kurdish towns.”