Withdrawal to be gradual with no clear indication of complete military withdrawal; Negotiations resume in Geneva Monday
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian military forces in Syria to begin withdraw from the region on Tuesday, claiming that its “task is fulfilled”. The announcement comes on the same day that negotiations focused on resolving the Syrian civil war resumed in Geneva.
Russian military forces have been in Syria for over five months, Russia claiming its main objective was to eliminate the Islamic State while supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
According to a report from Reuters, Putin notified President Obama of the withdrawal on Monday and stated that the withdraw “certainly serve[s] as a good signal to all conflicting sides and create conditions for the start of a true peace process”.
Russia will not entirely withdrawal from Syria, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Putin stated on Russia’s military campaign in Syria, “The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process… I believe that the task put before the defense ministry and Russian armed forces has, on the whole, been fulfilled. With the participation of the Russian military… the Syrian armed forces and patriotic Syrian forces have been able to achieve a fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism and have taken the initiative in almost all respects. I am therefore ordering the defense minister, from tomorrow, to start the withdrawal of the main part of our military contingent from the Syrian Arab Republic.”
Russia’s deputy ambassador to Israel Alexey Drobinin stated on the withdrawal that “Russia is sending a clear message to everyone involved in the Syria crisis that it’s time to give political dialogue a chance, a change for an internal Syrian dialogue between the government and the different factions in the opposition.” On security concerns for Israel he stated that Russia will “ensure that this crisis is resolved, and we will also do everything so that Israel’s national security interests are not harmed in the process… Israel is a neighboring country. It cannot be indifferent to what is happening in Syria. We take this into account, of course. We have an ongoing dialogue with the Israeli side on all levels, the military level and diplomatic level.”