PUTIN ORDERS WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN AIR FORCES DEPLOYED IN SYRIA

MOSCOW, Russia, Mar 15 - The Russian air forces deployed in Syria would start withdrawal from Mar 15 (today), Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said Monday.

Putin said, the decision was discussed and coordinated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, during a phone conversation earlier in the day, adding that, "the fundamental tasks set for the Russian armed forces in Syria were resolved."

"It was agreed to withdraw the main body of the Russian air forces. At the same time, Russia would preserve an air flight control centre in Syrian territory, to monitor the ceasefire regime," according to an online Kremlin press release.

According to Putin, Russia's naval base in Syria's coastal city of Tartus, as well as, the Hmeimim airbase south-east of Syria's Latakia city, would continue operation in a routine mode.

"A part of our military group has been traditionally deployed in Syria for many years and now it will be tasked to fulfil a very important job of monitoring the ceasefire regime and creating conditions for peace process," Putin added.

"I hope today's decision (of withdrawal) will be a good signal for all conflicting parties. I hope it will considerably increase trust of all participants in the process," Putin said, during a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Putin also ordered the foreign ministry to intensify efforts to push forward the Syrian peace process, while praising the Russian air forces in Syria for the efficient work that "created conditions for the start of a peace process."

Both Putin and Assad hoped the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, which started Monday, under the UN auspices, could bring concrete results, while the latter stressed his readiness to start political process in Syria, as soon as possible.

Assad also expressed gratitude to Russia for the substantial help in the fight against terrorism and the humanitarian aid delivery to Syrian civilians

Source: SANA

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