Kremlin President Vladimir Putin has reportedly ordered his Ministry of Defense to begin pulling out Russian troops from Syria, declaring that the end of “large-scale combat actions” against jihadists in the war-devastated country is imminent.
“The large-scale combat actions against terror groups in Syria are coming to an end,” declared Putin, according to the state-owned TASS news agency. “I note that the efforts of Russia, Iran, and Turkey have helped to prevent Syria’s breakup, not allow its takeover by international terrorists and avoid a humanitarian crisis.”
Putin also said, “The task of fighting armed bandits here in Syria, a task that it was essential to solve with the help of extensive use of armed force, has, for the most part, been solved and solved spectacularly. I congratulate you!”
He indicated that current conditions provide “a real chance … to end the civil war that has raged for many years.”
Putin’s announcement of the planned troops’ withdrawal came during his recent visit to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria.
In Syria, the Russian leader “instructed the Ministry of Defense to begin the withdrawal of the Russian troops,” notes TASS.
Military support from Iran and Russia turned the tide of the war in favor of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, allowing the ruthless leader to remain in power.
Although Turkey and Russia have been on opposing sides of the conflict, the two countries have reportedly been working together to end the conflict.
Turkey has supported Syrian opposition groups while Russia has backed Assad.
While Turkey-Russian relations improve, the Syrian war has driven a wedge between NATO allies U.S. and Turkey.
During Putin’s visit, Assad thanked the Russian leader for the Kremlin’s assistance in combating his enemies.
Assad considers all opposition troops, including those backed by Western countries, to be in the same league as terrorist groups al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Putin’s assertion that Russian troops will soon begin withdrawing from Syria is not without precedent.
In 2016, the Russian leader claimed that the “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to pull out from the country.
However, Russia remains engaged in Syria.
Citing unnamed U.S. officials and independent experts, Reuters reported in late 2015 that Russia had deployed an estimated 4,000 troops to Syria.