Russia Says Withdrawal From Syria Won't Weaken Assad

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Participants attend a ceremony to welcome Russian military jets and pilots upon their return to a home airbase from Syria, in Buturlinovka in Voronezh region, Russia, March 15, 2016.
Participants attend a ceremony to welcome Russian military jets and pilots upon their return to a home airbase from Syria, in Buturlinovka in Voronezh region, Russia, March 15, 2016.Credit: Reuters
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Russia says withdrawal from Syria won't weaken Assad

A spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the withdrawal of the main part of Russia's armed forces in Syria would not weaken Syrian President Bashar Assad, Interfax reported. 

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman, added that the main theme of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Russia next week would be Syria. (Reuters)

Iran sees Russia's withdrawal from Syria as 'positive'

Iran's foreign minister has called Russia's decision to withdraw its forces from Syria "a positive sign", while a senior security official said the move was pre-planned and not a surprise to Tehran. 

President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced on Monday that most Russian forces would be withdrawn from Syria after deploying in September to bolster President Bashar al-Assad. A steady stream of warplanes has flown home since then. 

"The fact that Russia announced they are withdrawing part of its forces indicates that they don't see an imminent need for resort to force in maintaining the ceasefire," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran's Press TV during a visit to Australia on Tuesday. 

"That in and of itself could be a positive sign. We have to wait and see," he added. (Reuters)

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