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Lawmaker slams reports saying Russia is not withdrawing forces from Syria

March 30, 21:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW
A senior Israeli Air Force officer said that Russian air power in Syria remains substantial, with newly deployed attack helicopters replacing many of the fighter bombers that have made their way home
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. Western media reports that Russia is not in reality withdrawing forces from Syria are "myths and speculations," Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko told reporters on Wednesday.

"I don’t know what sources Western media have. As a member of [Russian] Federation Council, I can responsibly state that the decision of Russian President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin on withdrawing the main part of task force from Syria is being fulfilled," Matviyenko said adding that information about progress in pulling out forces is published on the official website of the Russian Defense Ministry.

Reports that Russia is not in reality withdrawing forces from Syria are "speculations, myths, an attempt to put a fly in the ointment," she went on. "They do not want to admit that Russia successfully joined the resolution of the Syrian crisis, carried out successful actions and took leading positions," the lawmaker noted adding that "not everyone likes this" which provokes attempts to discredit Moscow’s actions in Syria.

Matviyenko noted that Moscow openly stated that Russian military bases in Syria will remain after withdrawal of main contingent from the country because "terrorism threat persists." "Terrorists should be fought until the end, until they are completely destroyed. We are acting openly," she concluded.

A senior Israeli Air Force officer told Defense News on March 28 that "despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s widely publicized, mid-March order to evacuate the bulk of his forces from Syria, Russian air power in the country remains substantial, with newly deployed attack helicopters replacing many of the fighter bombers that have made their way home."

The Kremlin press service released a statement on March 14 that the Russian and Syrian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, agreed to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian aviation task force from Syria because the Russian Aerospace Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks which had been assigned to them. Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015.

Russia left an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered starting the Russian troops’ withdrawal as of March 15. Last week Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said that Russian forces will continue delivering airstrikes at terrorists in Syria.

The ceasefire between government forces and armed opposition took effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27. An hour before the agreement entered into force, UN Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria.

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