The end of Russian military presence in Syria will soon be over, according to local media. The commander of Russian air force, Victor Bondarev, stated yesterday that the withdrawal would be conducted in a matter of days. Based on the timeframe given by President Vladimir Putin and the defence minister, the withdrawal will be completed “within two-three days”, said Mr Bondarev, Al Jazeera Reports. Cargo planes deport warplanes, helicopters, equipment and materials back to Russia. The first transport arrived in Russia on Tuesday.
The interview was given only a couple of days after the President surprisingly declared the retreat of the majority of troops from Syrian soil. The intervention, which began at the end of September last year, has essentially achieved its goal in preventing the Assad regime from collapse. According to the spokesman for the rebel high negotiations committee, Salim al-Muslat, the withdrawal will have a positive influence on the Syrian peace talks in Geneva. If the withdrawal is to be implemented “it will form a major element of pressure on the regime, because the Russian support prolonged the regime,” said al-Muslat. Putin haven’t yet set a final date for a complete withdrawal, he stated that the airbase in Hmeymim and naval base in port Tartous would still be operating.
The Russian intervention has received harsh criticism for targeting opposition groups, such as the moderate Free Syrian army, often striking hospitals and schools. This has, however, been denied by the Russians, who claim that they’re bombing and targeting the Islamic State. Their airstrike campaigns have been indiscriminate and according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 1,733 civilians have been killed as a result. According to Russian media, between the 500-700 personnel that participated in the “successful” airstrike in Syria will receive medals.
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