Russia Cuts Military Presence in Syria to Turn Military Success to Political
Syria's opposition High Negotiations Committee's (HNC) adviser Yahya Aridi said that the Russian work in Syria has succeeded in achieving the goals set.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia is cutting its military presence in Syria in order to gain leverage over Iran and Damascus and encourage them to abide by the recently-established ceasefire, thus bringing the military success of its forces to a political level, opposition High Negotiations Committee's (HNC) adviser Yahya Aridi told Sputnik on Friday.
Earlier in the day, chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov announced that Russia had begun the planned reduction of its military presence in Syria with a Northern Fleet carrier group led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.
"This Russian announcement of withdrawal of its military power could exercise some pressure on Tehran and Damascus]. … That could constitute some kind of leverage," Aridi said.
He added that if Iran and the Syrian government violated the ceasefire, "the result will backfire on Russia itself."
"The Russian work in Syria has succeeded in achieving the goals set. Now it has to come to fruition. Its fruit can be a political settlement. If the withdrawal is serious, strategic, it will coordinate this success with another success at the political level," Aridi said.
A nationwide ceasefire between the Syrian government and opposition factions took effect at midnight local time on December 30. Russia and Turkey serve as guarantors of the deal.
The Russian Aerospace Forces' support played a key role in the latest Syrian government troops' battlefield victories, chief of the Syrian Army General Staff Lt. Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayyoub said via videoconference earlier on Friday.
The decision to cut Russia's military presence in the Arab republic was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recommendation of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on December 29.
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