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Putin Announces Russian Military Withdrawal from Syria

Dec. 11, 2017 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the first stop of a whirlwind Middle East tour that would also take him to Egypt and Turkey, announced in Syria that he had issued orders to the Russian Defense Ministry to begin a partial withdrawal of Russian military forces from Syria. He made the announcement at the Hmeymim Airbase, where Russian forces are headquartered and where he met with Syrian President Bashaar Al Assad.

"I order the Defense Ministry and the chief of the General Staff to begin the pullout of the Russian military group to permanent locations,"

Putin told an audience of military personnel.

"Over slightly more than two years, the Russian Armed Forces have routed together with the Syrian army the most combat-capable grouping of international terrorists. In view of this, I have made a decision: most of the Russian military contingent staying in the Syrian Arab Republic is returning home, to Russia. You are coming home with a victory, to your relatives, parents, wives, children, and friends. Your Motherland is waiting for you, my friends. Have a safe trip home and thank you for your service,"

Putin said and then warned: "If terrorists again raise head, we will deliver such strikes on them that they haven’t seen so far".

"We will never forget about the deaths and losses sustained in the anti-terror fight both here in Syria and in Russia. But this won’t force us to fold our hands and retreat. This is not our national characteristic. On the contrary, this memory will give us an additional force to eradicate that absolute evil—international terrorism—no matter under what guise it hides....

"This is what military service is about, this is the main priority of those who dedicate their lives to serving their people,"

he noted.

"Soldiers who serve their country pass the most important test at the battlefield, risking their health and life. By helping the Syrian people preserve their statehood and counter terrorist attacks, you have dealt a devastating blow to those who had openly and brazenly threatened our country,"

the Russian President stressed.

Thanking Putin for aiding Syria, Syrian President Assad said,

"The achievements that have occurred are very significant and very important for us. The meeting’s issue—the destruction of militants of ISIL—is crucial for the entire world. We coped with that,"

Assad said.

As for the withdrawal, Lt. Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the commander of the Russian Group of Forces in Syria, announced that it would begin almost immediately.

"Upon completion of the operation to defeat the Islamic State in Syrian territory, the military contingent was ordered and has already begun to withdraw forces, including 25 aircraft [23 fixed-wing aircraft and two Ka-52 attack helicopters, according to TASS] and military personnel—the military police force, the commando unit, the field hospital, and the mine-clearing center,"

he said. "The remaining force will be able to cope with its tasks as effectively."

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