Russia Begins Scaling Back Operations in Syria

Russia Begins Scaling Back Operations in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Putin ordered a partial drawdown of Russian forces from Syria, given Aleppo’s liberation, other anti-terrorist successes, conflict resolution talks set to begin on January 23 in Astana, Kazakhstan, and Trump set to succeed Obama in two weeks. 
He said he’ll cooperate with Russia in combating terrorism – if he follows through on campaign rhetoric, bucking heavy pressure to maintain adversarial relations.
First to depart for home will be the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier and battle group, leaving Friday, according to Russian Army General Staff chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov, saying:
“In accordance with the decision by Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Defense Ministry is starting to downsize the grouping of the armed forces in Syria.”
Commander of Russian forces in Syria General Andrey Kartapolov said “(a)ll combat tasks assigned to the aircraft carrier group have been accomplished.”
Syrian General Staff head Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayyoub expressed thanks for Russia’s support, saying it’s been crucial for our victories, which paved the way for a ceasefire and created the conditions for launching a political settlement of the Syrian crisis.”
Last March, Putin prematurely ordered most Russian aerial assets and supportive ground personnel withdrawn from Syria, saying his mission was “generally accomplished” – a strategic error as things turned out.
Months of fierce fighting followed throughout the year. It continues against ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups not part of the agreed on ceasefire.
Will Russia’s current drawdown become another strategic error – likely not if Trump is on board for allying with Russia in combating terrorism.
If not, war could continue endlessly, peace talks accomplishing nothing like three times before in Geneva – the last attempt in February 2016 suspended after two futile days.
Much depends on what course Trump takes. Will he combat regional terrorism or support it? Will he improve relations with Russia or continue adversarial ones?
Will he do the right thing geopolitically or follow in the lawless footsteps of the Clinton co-presidency, Bush/Cheney and Obama?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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