Russia scaling down presence in Syria
Russia announced on Friday that it would be down-scaling its presence from waters around war-torn Syria. The withdrawal comes in the wake of a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey between the Syrian government and opposition forces.
The ceasefire came into effect on December 30.
General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian general staff chief, announced that the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier and its associated ships would be the first to withdraw. The Admiral Kuznetsov initiated airstrikes from mid-November. It was the first time the carrier was used in combat. To date it has lost just two aircraft - an Su-33 fighter jet which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on its return after a raid on Syria in December. The other was a a MiG-29 which crashed into the sea while trying to land on the carrier.
Russia has been a staunch supporter of Syria's incumbent president, Bashar Al-Assad, and it is believed that with government forces retaking the city of Aleppo in December, in conjunction with the brokered ceasefire, has decreased the need for Russia's presence in the area.
The announcement did not state how extensive the withdrawal would be and follows an order by Russian President Vladimir Putin, issued on December 29.
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