Putin orders start of Russian military pullout from Syria
President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to withdraw most of its forces from Syria, timing his move to coincide with the launch of Syria peace talks Monday — an end game that allows the Russian leader to cash in on his gains and reduce his risks in the conflict.
The start of the negotiations in Geneva offers Putin an opportune moment to declare an official end to the 5½-month Russian air campaign that has allowed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army to win back some key ground and strengthen his positions ahead of the talks. With Russia’s main goals in Syria achieved, the pullback will allow Putin to pose as a peacemaker and help ease tensions with NATO member Turkey and the Gulf monarchies vexed by Moscow’s military action.
At the same time, Putin made it clear that Russia will maintain its air base and a naval facility in Syria and keep some troops there. Syria’s state news agency also quoted Assad as saying that the Russian military will draw down its air force contingent but won’t leave the country altogether.
The Syrian presidency said Assad and Putin spoke on the phone Monday and jointly agreed that Russia would scale back its forces in Syria. It rejected speculation that the decision reflected a rift between the allies and said the decision reflected the “successes” the two armies have achieved in fighting terrorism in Syria and restoring peace to key areas of the country.
The Syrian army said it would continue its operations against the Islamic State group, the Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations “with the same tempo.”
Announcing his decision in a televised meeting with Russia’s foreign and defense ministries, Putin said the Russian air campaign has allowed Assad’s military to “radically” turn the tide of war and helped create conditions for peace talks.
“With the tasks set before the Defense Ministry and the military largely fulfilled, I’m ordering the Defense Minister to start the pullout of the main part of our group of forces from Syria, beginning tomorrow,” Putin said.
He also informed President Barack Obama of his move in a phone call, emphasizing the importance of U.S.-Russian coordination “for preserving the cease-fire, ensuring humanitarian aid deliveries to the blockaded settlements and conducting an efficient struggle against terrorist groups,” according to the Kremlin, which added that the conversation was “business-like and frank.”
Putin didn’t specify how many planes and troops would be withdrawn. The number of Russian soldiers in Syria has not been revealed. U.S. estimates of the number of Russian military personnel in Syria vary from 3,000 to 6,000.
Five years of war, five months of Russian military intervention, and now peace talks are underway. It’s as simple as that.
However, rather than acknowledging a successful Russian mission, Western media outlets immediately began speculating that President Putin’s surprise announcement to withdraw Russian forces from Syria indicates a “rift” between Moscow and Damascus.
This is just more of the same Western media weapon of mass distraction that has obscured the real nature of the five-year war.
The sovereignty of Syria is the central principle officially underpinning peace talks that resumed in Geneva this week. Without Russia’s military intervention, Syria would not have the chance to pursue a political settlement on a such solid footing.
By contrast, after nearly two years of US-led military intervention allegedly to “defeat terrorism”, the Syrian state was on the brink of collapse from a largely foreign-backed terrorist assault. Until, that is, Russia intervened at the end of September last year.
The touchstone is that Russia from the outset was motivated by supporting the Syrian nation and supplanting the terror threat. While the US and its allies were ultimately the source of the threat.
Western media in hock to their governments’ political line still strain the implausible narrative of a “popular uprising” in Syria that somehow descended into a “global proxy war”.
But to the rest of the world, US-led illegal regime-change is the obvious, and damning, story. This should be the focus, not speculation about Putin’s alleged ulterior motives to withdraw militarily now from Syria.
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking in Paris last weekend alongside European counterparts appeared to highlight Syria as a priority for peace efforts.
It is rather galling that Kerry should lecture Russia about making “clear choices” in Syria or elsewhere, when the only plausible explanation for the violence in the Arab country can be traced to the criminal interference of Washington and its partners, in flagrant violation of international law and thereby unleashing mayhem that destroyed millions of lives.
As opposition parties gather for tentative talks in Geneva, the New York Times informed its readers that it coincides with the “fifth anniversary of the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which morphed into civil war and then a regional and global proxy war.”
This is a typical sample of Western distortion on Syria that persists in contradiction to the abundant evidence. That Western narrative is based on the dubious premise that the violence was instigated after the Syrian state crushed a genuine pro-democracy uprising. Secondly, the narrative blandly portrays that the conflict then escalated into a proxy war between foreign governments, as if the latter scenario is unrelated to the initial “uprising”.
However, thanks to alternative news media in the West and also internationally, such as channels like RT and Press TV, there is a substantial body of information that challenges the Western mainstream narrative. Not only challenges, but exposes it as willful deception.
excellent article from RT..syria has won..assad survived..and now the losers think they still have some position of power or leverage..you dont..assad isnt going anywhere..the zombie black flag wavers and the false flags and the aerial attacks from many countries have not broken the syrian government..and we saw just how strong russia can be when it wants to be..
“It is rather galling that Kerry should lecture Russia about making “clear choices” in Syria or elsewhere, when the only plausible explanation for the violence in the Arab country can be traced to the criminal interference of Washington and its partners, in flagrant violation of international law and thereby unleashing mayhem that destroyed millions of lives.”