Assad says Russia to draw down, not pull out

Syria’s state news agency is quoting President Bashar Assad as saying that the Russian military will draw down its air force contingent from Syria, but won’t leave the country altogether.

State TV also quoted Assad as saying Russia will decrease its presence to levels “in line with the situation on the ground and the continuation of the cessation of hostilities.”

Assad’s remarks follow Vladimir Putin’s announcement on Monday of a partial Russian pullout from Syria in support of ongoing peace talks.

Still from a video purporting to show a Russian air strike on the northern Syrian village of Al-Lataminah on September 30, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube)
Still from a video purporting to show a Russian airstrike on the northern Syrian village of al-Lataminah on September 30, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube)

Assad says the collaboration between Russian and Syrian forces has secured “victories against terrorism and returned security to the country.”

Russia deployed its air force to Syria last September to prop up Assad’s faltering government, which has been waging a five-year long war against internal opponents and jihadist militants.


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