Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the Russians have withdrawn a large number of troops and aircraft, according to state-run news agency Tass,
Putin said they withdrew more than 1,000 military personnel and more than 20 aircraft from Syria in the last few days.
“Only over the past several days, 13 planes, 14 helicopters and 1,140 personnel have been pulled out [of Syria],” the Russian leader said, state news agency Tass reported. Putin explained that Russia has been removing its forces from the Middle Eastern country since he visited in December.
Tass also reported on Thursday that the Black Sea Fleet frigate Admiral Essen had “accomplished” its mission in the Mediterranean and is headed back to the city of Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula. Russia has a permanent task force in the Mediterranean, with a naval base located in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous.
Putin praised the Russian military’s success in Syria, saying the “army clearly demonstrated its growing potential and better coordination among military units in the struggle with terrorists.”
Earlier this month, Assad said in an interview that he believes the conflict will come to an end in “less than a year.” He added that his army will take back “every inch” of the country, claiming that he has the “support” of his people.
Assad’s army has turned its attention to the country’s southwest region, as the last remaining pockets of rebels have been defeated near Damascus and Homs. Now, the military aims to reconquer the opposition-held area near the border of Jordan and the disputed Golan Heights, which are claimed by Israel and Syria.
But the region has recently become more complicated, with neighboring Israel launching strikes on Iranian-backed militias, which support Assad, stationed in the region. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Iran and Tehran-backed militias began withdrawing from the disputed Golan Heights border with Israel last week, as part of a Russian-brokered deal with Israel.
President Trump has reportedly been seeking the help of Putin to curb the Iranian military presence in Syria. Their basing of rockets, especially along the Golan Heights on the border with Israel will only lead to further warfare in Syria and beyond.
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