Russia begins to scale down troops in Syria

Moscow, Jan 6 (IANS) Russia on Friday began planned reduction of its military presence in Syria, led by aircraft carrier group “Admiral Kuznetsov”, the chief of the Russian armed forces said.

“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,” TASS news agency quoted Army General Valery Gerasimov as saying.

Gerasimov said Russia’s naval fleet led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which has been operating in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast, would be the first to leave.

The Russian President last month ordered a partial pullout of military forces from Syria after negotiating a ceasefire deal with Iran and Turkey. He said it offered an opportunity to end the six-year armed conflict in the Middle Eastern nation.

As the Russian military pulls out of Syria, Damascus reiterated its gratitude for Russia’s help in the conflict.

“The support that the Russian Air Force offered was crucial for our victories, which paved the way for a ceasefire and created the conditions for launching a political settlement of the Syrian crisis,” the chair of the general staff of the Syrian armed forces, Lt. General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, said, as reported by Russian news agencies.

–IANS

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