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UNITED NATIONS, March 15. /TASS/. The United Nations Secretary General has hailed Russia’s decision to withdraw the bulk of its forces from Syria as "a significant development" and expressed the hope it will have a positive effect on peace talks in Geneva, United Nations Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.
He reminded that United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Sraffan de Mistura has already provided comment on that matter. "We heard what Mr. de Mistura said and the Secretary General would very much agree that the decision by the Russian government is a significant development and he hopes that it will have a positive impact on the negotiations in Geneva, aimed at achieving the political solution to the Syrian conflict," he said.
The Kremlin press service said late on Monday after a telephone conversation between Russian and Syrian Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, that the two leaders agreed to withdraw the main part of Russia’s air group from that country as "the Russian Armed Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks, which had been assigned to them." Russia however will keep an air flights control center in Syria to monitor the observation of the ceasefire regime, the Kremlin said. An order was issued to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to begin troops pullout starting March 15.
The Russian government’s decision was in focus of a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said after the meeting that several Security Council members "noted that this move demonstrates Russia’s commitment to the political process."