Syria

Russia Withdrawing from Syria

"Cessation of hostilities" agreed upon last month.

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globalpanorama/flickr

Vladimir Putin has reportedly ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, with troops remaining at the Russian-held Tartus port as well as the Khmeimim airbase. The pull-out is supposed to start tomorrow.

The Russian intervention in Syria began last September after the embattled Syrian government requested Russian support. Russia insisted it was targeting the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda affiliates, but Western authorities and Western-backed rebels in Syria claimed Russia was largely targeting "moderate" rebels.

A statement from Bashar Assad, the president of Syria, said Russia's decision comported with "the continuation of the cessation of hostilities," was "in accordance with the situation on the ground," and that Russia will continue to support counter-terrorism efforts.

A United Nations envoy helped broker a cease fire (technically a "cessation of hostilities" that applied to everyone but ISIS and the Al-Qaeda affiliate) that went into effect February 27. There were rumors the ceasefire would expire after two weeks without further U.N. action, but that date came and went with no significant return to fighting.

Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011, when street protests during the broader "Arab Spring" were met with a violent government crackdown that contributed to a radicalization of the Syrian opposition. The U.S. has supported a range of "moderate" rebels but has little to show for it—at one point the U.S. spent $500 million to train rebels, yielding "four or five" fighters on the ground.

U.S. officials say they weren't told ahead of time about the Russian decision to pull out. Last October, Russia and the U.S. agreed on rules to govern their operations over the skies in Syria.

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  1. But wait, doesn’t a one-night stand in a foreign land obligate Russia to decades of expensive and ultimately futile nation-building?

    1. All Russia provided was “slum” clearance. Rebuilding is up to the Syrians.

      1. Population control and urban renewal.

    2. Nah. Russia pulled out just in time.

  2. Now on to the Syrians in Europe…

  3. “…the U.S. spent $500 million to train rebels, yielding “four or five” fighters on the ground.”

    Smart. Power. At. Its. Best.

    1. And for your gallant action in Operation Throw Money Down A Toilet in Syria” we hereby award you the Silver Toilet with Ruby Clusters and promote you to take charge of our next billion dollar boondoggle where you can win the Golden Toilet award

    2. In our defense, the DOD can’t take a piss for less than ten million.

  4. They will be back once they get that dolphin brigade trained up.

    1. Also China economic downturn has greatly lowered the price of laser pointers. Just imagine the power of the dolphin brigade with laser pointer attached to their heads!

  5. Their logistical tail must be absolutely frayed….Syria, Ukraine, Georgia. A steady stream of used up munitions, worn out vehicles, planes and helicopters, burned through repair parts, fuel and medical supplies. Not to mention the casualties. All straining at a rickety economy and shrinking population.

    1. Yeah, I suspect the ‘withdrawal’ has little to do with ‘victory achieved’ and more to do with ‘oh shit we’re out of money’.

      1. That would never happen in this country. “I’m not out of money, I still have checks!”

  6. This is most likely a feint. This cessation will not last-no freaking way. The Russians can use this to say they were at least holding up their end of the deal and wanted peace before they start fighting again.

    1. Nope.

      Aleppo has more or less fallen. Which is why the “Cease fire” was declared in the first place. It is better described as “terms of surrender” for the Syrian Opposition.

      Russia signaled its position a month or so ago (before the truce) when they broke with Syria and said the ‘territorial integrity’ of Syria was important… but that it was not the job of their military.

      It basically meant as a message to the US (and Syria) that they were fighting to keep Assad in power – but they weren’t going to stick around forever to fight ALL his enemies (ISIS etc).

      Basically it was kicking Syria in the balls and saying, “Do a deal for peace”, … and then (presumably) let the US and the Turks or whomever bomb those ISIS people for you. Syria keeps the Assad regime (tho i expect there’s some concessions), the US promises to stop trying to overthrow him, and Russia leaves.

      The Russians have limited goals and once they get assurances that they keep their naval assets and a friendly regime, they have no interest trying to re-capture half the dirtpile back from these ISIS bozos.

      1. “Aleppo has more or less fallen. ”

        Pretty sure that isn’t true. Half of Aleppo is still rebel-held, but it is encircled mostly or entirely by hostile forces.

  7. Huh huh, Vladimir Pull-out, huh-huh.

    1. Alternate phrasing:

      New York Tabloids Proclaim a PUTIN PULLOUT.

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