Russia begins to withdraw armed forces in Syria

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Russia began a phaseout of its military presence in Syria on Friday, with the withdrawal of its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov from the Mediterranean, said Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

The military reduction came after Russia and Turkey brokered a nationwide truce in Syria last week between the Syrian government and major opposition groups in the latest attempt to end nearly six years of civil war in the Middle East country.

In accordance with a decision made by President Vladimir Putin, the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, along with other vessels, is set to leave the conflict zone later Friday for its home base in Russia, said Gerasimov.

The aircraft carrier group has completed assigned tasks in Syria in its first-ever combat mission, said Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, the group’s task force commander.

The Russian Naval Aviation has destroyed more than 1,200 terrorist targets in 420 sorties over two months of operations in Syria, said Kartapolov.

Russian military support played a pivotal role in the latest Syrian government victories on the battleground, said Lt. Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, chief of the Syrian Army General Staff.

Russia and other potential mediators are expected to meet warring parties in Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan, later this month to seek settlement of the chronic crisis, which has claimed more than 300,000 lives and displaced nearly 11 million others.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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