No Significant Russian Withdrawal, Yet

Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this week plans to withdraw forces from Syria, the US-led coalition has only seen a “small handful” of Russian aircraft depart and just some support troops head home, the coalition’s spokesman said. Putin on Monday said his country’s goal has largely been “fulfilled” and he would begin removing troops and aircraft from Syria. US Army Col. Steve Warren said during a Wednesday briefing that the coalition has seen eight to 10 aircraft leave Syria, but other aircraft have conducted sorties within the past 24 hours, though no airstrikes were conducted. There’s been some movement of Russian troops, as well as indications of small units packing up, but “no significant numbers of troops have departed Syria yet,” said Warren. There also has been a “fairly notable reduction” in the amount of activity by Russian forces against Syrian forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad, though there is continued support, Warren added.