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Putin Orders Withdrawal Of Russian Forces From Syria

REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian military forces from Syria, reported the Associated Press Monday.

Putin’s order came during a meeting with his foreign and defense ministers and will take effect Tuesday, though the exact timetable for when all Russian troops will leave is uncertain. Putin claimed Russia had achieved its objectives in Syria and that the Kremlin will continue its involvement in the peace process.

“I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” said Putin, as reported by Russia’s RT.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said that Putin informed his ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of his decision via a telephone conversation.

The withdrawal comes just after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Monday that Russia was willing “to coordinate our actions with the Americans” in the fight to retake the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa in Syria.

“Perhaps, this is no secret, if I say that at some stage the Americans suggested performing a ‘division of labor’: the Russian Air Forces should concentrate on the liberation of Palmyra, and the American coalition with Russian support will focus on the liberation of Raqqa,” said Lavrov, according to Reuters.

Whether or not the Russian withdrawal will include Russian air forces operating against Raqqa is unknown.

Russia’s military campaign in Syria began September of last year. Russia’s intervention started with air strikes, while ground forces were added to the fray in November.

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