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Hmeimim group of Syrian opposition agrees with Russia’s decision to withdraw forces

March 17, 2016, 10:13 UTC+3 GENEVA

The need for presence of Russian military forces in Syria has decreased as a result of the ceasefire agreement signed by several armed opposition groups

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© Irina Sokolova/TASS

GENEVA, March 17. /TASS/. The Hmeimim group of the Syrian opposition agrees with the withdrawal of Russian Aerospace Defense Forces from Syria and understands the reasons behind this decision, the group’s leader Ilian Masaad told TASS on Thursday.

"As for me, I agree with this approach," Masaad said. "National reconciliation means the end of military actions," he added. "It was important to make some kind of positive gesture toward those people that are against [Syrian President Bashar] Assad," he noted.

Masaad said that the need for presence of Russian military forces in Syria has decreased as a result of the ceasefire agreement signed by several armed opposition groups. "The forces that were against the government, for instance the 41st brigade, signed an agreement saying they are ready to ceasefire and embark on the path of reconciliation. There is no need to bomb them," he added.

Masaad leads the delegation of internal Syrian opposition at Geneva talks which became known as the Hmeimim group.

According to TASS, the Hmeimim group includes doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists, social activities representing the Syrian organization National Action, Democratic Action in Syria movement, Secular Democracy organization, National Youth and Syrian Fatherland parties, as well as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and others.

Ilian Masaad is Doctor of Laws, general secretary of the National Conference party that supports unified secular state, democratic activist, official representative of the Syrian National Workers’ Party.

Russia withdraws forces from Syria

The Kremlin press service released a statement on Monday evening 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 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 will leave 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. Earlier today Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said that Russian forces will continue delivering airstrikes as terrorists in Syria.

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