MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday declared that Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government had signed a number of documents including a ceasefire deal that would take effect at midnight on the night of Dec. 29-30. The Russian leader also announced a ‘reduction’ of Moscow’s forces in Syria after Damascus and rebels inked a truce deal.
In a televised meeting, Putin said, “I agree with the proposal from the defence ministry for the reduction of our military presence in Syria,” insisting Russia would still continue to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Putin, however, did not mention how many troops and weapons will be withdrawn. He pledged that Russia will continue to fight international terrorism in Syria and support Assad’s military. He also said that the Russian military will maintain its presence at both an air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia and the naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus. The ceasefire is to be followed by renewed peace negotiations to end the nearly six-year conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Egypt will be invited to join the process, and that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan could eventually join as well.
(With AFP and AP inputs)