Military Times - 12/11/17: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory against “terrorists” in Syria on Monday during a surprise visit to a Russian military base in the county, where he also announced a partial pullout of Russian troops.
It was Putin’s first trip to Syria, where Russia launched an air campaign in 2015 that allowed President Bashar Assad’s forces to gain the upper hand against the Islamic State group as well as Syrian rebels. It was also the first visit by a foreign head of state to war-ravaged Syria since the civil war began in 2011.
Though there’s a shadow cast on America’s relations with Russia at the time of this post, the two countries can certainly agree that terrorists are bad.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited his troops at the Syrian Hemeimeem base in the country’s coastal province, commending them on an excellent performance and declaring victory over the Islamic State. Iraq made a previous statement in the same vein last week.
Putin’s Russia first joined Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces with an air campaign in 2015. Russia’s involvement turned around Syria’s fortune in the conflict against Islamic State, al-Qaida, and anti-Assad forces. Following today’s announcements, Russia will withdraw a “significant part” of its forces from the Hemeimeem base and another naval facility.
Russia and Syria have agreements in place that allows Putin’s forces to use several of Syria’s military bases, so some of their military will stay behind and continue work in the country.
23 warplanes, two helicopter gunships, special forces units, military police and field engineers will head back to Russia. In a very Russian fashion, Putin wrapped up his day in Syria telling his forces “Friends, the Motherland is waiting for you, you are coming back home with victory!”
A stable Middle East is good for the conscience with possible escalation on the rise further east in Asia. How long will this last, and where will Russia’s interests lay going forward? It’s too early to say. But a waning ISIS is an enjoyable victory for the time being.