Turkey cautious on Russia’s withdrawal from Syria
Uğur Ergan – ANKARA
REUTERS photoAnkara remains cautious about Russia’s partial withdrawal from Syria after conducting more than five months of air strikes in the country.
Turkish sources speaking on condition of anonymity said Russia’s withdrawal was not so much an act of goodwill but a “political maneuver” with the intention of pressuring Western countries as United Nations-backed peace talks continue in Geneva.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on March 14 that Russia would start to partially withdraw its forces in Syria, adding that Moscow’s military goal had been “on the whole” completed some five-and-a-half months and 9,000 combat sorties after the Kremlin launched its bombing campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkish jets are not expected to again join a U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey has not being contributing to the coalition with its jets since it downed a Russian fighter jet in November 2015.
Sources said Russia would keep its air defense system in Syria.