Washington Cautious about Moscow’s Order for Syria Pullout

Washington Cautious about Moscow’s Order for Syria Pullout
Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:29:38

The United States has offered a cautious response to an order given by Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull out Russian military from Syria.

Putin said Monday that the planned drawdown set to start on Tuesday could serve as a stimulus for Syria’s political talks.

The Russian president, who announced the decision in a televised meeting with Russia’s foreign and defense ministries, hailed Moscow’s nearly six months of air campaign in Syria as a positive step, saying it created conditions for peace talks.

“With the tasks set before the Defense Ministry and the military largely fulfilled, I'm ordering the Defense Minister to start the pullout of the main part of our group of forces in Syria, beginning tomorrow,” Putin said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that “we will have to see exactly what Russia`s intentions are."

Within minutes after Putin issued the order, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that “we will have to see exactly what Russia`s intentions are."

Russia’s unexpected decision came hours after peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition resumed in the Swiss city of Geneva.

Russia started its military campaign in Syria on September 30, 2015, based on a request from the Syrian government.

The airstrikes have greatly boosted the morale of the Syrian army as it has managed to retake key areas from militants across the country with Russian support.

Earnest, however, claimed that Russia’s help to Syria to fight ISIS terrorists has made it difficult for a transition to happen in the war-torn country.

"We have talked about how Russia's continued military intervention to prop up the Assad regime made the efforts to reach a political transition even more difficult," said Earnest.

"It's hard for me to assess what sorts of implications this will have on the talks what sort of change it will bring about to that dynamic."

The previous Syria talks collapsed early in February after the Saudi-backed opposition left the talks amid the Syrian army’s Russian-backed gains against militants on several fronts.

On Sunday, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations and head of the government delegation Bashar al-Ja’afari rejected a demand by the Saudi-backed opposition group to discuss a political transition away from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying setting such a precondition for peace talks will only cause them to fail.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders, Press TV reported.

S/SH 11

string(358) "[{"id":"1798952","sort":"3512026","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/03/15/alalam_635936311993188952_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"UN Security Council Praises Russia’s Syria Pullout"} ,{"id":"1798821","sort":"3512027","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/03/14/alalam_635935875379659476_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Putin Orders Russian Main Forces to Withdraw from Syria"} ]"