News / Middle East

    Putin Orders Withdrawal of Russian Forces from Syria

    FILE - In this Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo, a Russian Su-25 ground attack jet is parked at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, Dec. 18, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of most Russian forces from Syria, media reported March 14.
    FILE - In this Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo, a Russian Su-25 ground attack jet is parked at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, Dec. 18, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of most Russian forces from Syria, media reported March 14.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, as new U.N.-mediated peace talks on Syria began in Geneva.

    Russian state media quoted Putin Monday as telling Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the tasks assigned to the defense ministry in Syria have been fulfilled.

    "Therefore, I am issuing an order to, starting tomorrow, begin the withdrawal of the bulk of our military contingent from the Syrian Arab Republic," Putin told the ministers.

    The Kremlin's website quoted Putin as telling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a phone conversation that he would withdraw the "main part" of the Russian air force contingent operating in Syria.

    In Damascus, the office of Syria's presidency said Assad agreed to the move, but added that Russia had promised that its air force contingent will not leave the country altogether.

    Russia's announcement comes as Syrian peace talks, sponsored by Russia and the Untied States, began Monday in Geneva, the first talks in more than two years. U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura warned that if the talks fail, "the only plan B available is return to war."

    The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama called Putin Monday to discuss Russia's announcement of a withdrawal, and to talk about how to advance the political negotiations for Syria.

    A U.S. official tells VOA that so far there is “no indication” Russian forces are getting ready to pull out of Syria. “There have been no signals of retrograde or withdrawal,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    The official added that while there had been no significant recent additions to the Russian force deployed in Syria, so-called “sustainment operations” - the influx of supplies needed to maintain its current force posture - had been continuing.

    The Kremlin's website quoted Putin as saying Russia would maintain a "post" for supporting flights of aircraft involved in monitoring compliance with the cessation of hostilities in Syria.

    Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said Monday that Russia is making this move to withdraw its forces from Syria because "we are in the political mode now, in the cessation of hostilities mode." He said, "Our diplomacy has received marching orders to intensify our efforts to achieve [a] political settlement in Syria."

    He said "Our forces have operated very effectively. Our military presence will continue to be there; it will be directed mostly at making sure the cease-fire, cessation of hostilities is maintained."

    Syrian opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat cautiously welcomed Putin's move. "We have to be sure about the nature of this decision and what it means. If there is a decision to pull troops, then this is positive. We have to see that translated on the ground and whether it's a decision to withdraw troops or to reduce the number of warplanes in Syria," he said.

    National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin and United Nations Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora