President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian forces to start withdrawing from Syria as the two-year campaign to bring down ISIS is complete
Putin had previously declared that he was planning to pull out most of the Russian troops.
“I order the defense minister and the chief of general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases,” Putin said
At the same time, he threatened that “if terrorists raise their heads again” his country would “carry out such strikes on them which they have never seen.”
Even so, the Pentagon pushed back on the Russian President’s announcement.
“Russian comments about removal of their forces do not often correspond with actual troop reductions,” Army Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters
Russia’s military started getting involved in Syria back in September 2015 and it has been controversial from the start. Just a few days after Russian jets and troops arrived, former President Obama predicted a “quagmire” for both Russian and Iranian forces in Syria.
H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security advisor said at the Reagan Natioal Defense Forum that 80% of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are Iranian supported proxies.
“What the Iranians have done across the Middle East is fuel and accelerate cycles of violence so that they can take advantage of chaos and weak states to make them dependent on Iran for support,” McMaster said.
Even though Russia has always claimed that it was only targeting ISIS militants, human rights organizations say that many civilians have been killed.