First comments have come in from Mark Sleboda -
Thank you Putin for dashing the hopes & moral of every #SAA, #NDF, #YPG, Iranian, Iraqi, and #Hezbollah soldier & most Syrian civvies tonight☹
#Kremlin's withdrawal from #Syria announcement: ill-conceived, naïve, ill-fated diplomatic goodwill gesture 100% certain to backfire badly.
This will be misread as weakness and embolden #AlQaeda, #AharAlSham,#JaeshAlIslam, #ISIS, #Turkey, #Saudi, and #Qatar. However NATO reacts - the aforementioned now have clear reason to torpedo talks and return to regime change.
To put #Russia withdrawal from #Syria into perspective: it WOULD be as bad as a GW Bush #MIssionAccomplished moment IF he had left Saddam in control of 65% of Iraq?
Obviously our allies can take away from this that #Russia-ns will stick w them to the bitter end ? #Syria Shades #Donbass
You don't leave until the job is done. The job is not even close to done.
What should be Russia's real military objectives in #Syria (2-3 years away from now)
Syrian govt stable and in control of all its borders and most of its territory.
No major urban area remaining in hands of jihadists - Palmyra, Aleppo, Raqqa, Idlib City
ISIS and AlQaeda defeated to the point where counter-insurgency ops takes place of field battle
West-backed "moderate" proxies (all 5 of them) fully peeled from and disavowing #AlQaeda allies and signed onto peace process.
US, EU, Turkey, Saudi, and Qatar signed on to real peace process. With agreed on goals and endgame. And having ended support for their proies
And from Jon Hellevig in Moscow
Here it comes, "Russia withdraws ground tropps, not Air Force". Frigging RT never told us that Russia had any ground troops - "boots on the ground" as the cousins say - there, and no other Russian source for that matter. So how should we react to this news? Probably like most of the pro-Russians: Yah-yah, this is the new reality, now this is the line we must tout and cheer. - In my opinion only the one that is capable of criticizing objectively what needs to be criticized whatever target, intended or unintended, that arrow hits, and not afraid of doing it, merits respect.
Russia withdraws ground troops; not Air Force
14 March, 2016
Throngs of opposition supporters took to the streets in the rebel-controlled parts of Syria to celebrate the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the country after a 6 month deployment.
Unbeknownst to those opposition supporters, the Russian Air Force is not going anywhere; in fact, the Russian Federation is only withdrawing its ground forces that were primarily stationed in Latakia to protect their aerial assets.
Yes, the Russian aerial assets are staying in Syria, including their sophisticated S-400 anti-aircraft missiles that were deployed to the country after the Turkish Air Defense shot down a Russian fighter jet over the Latakia Governorate.
However, the Hmaymim Airfields are fully secured and the Latakia Governorate is on the verge of being under the complete control of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies.
So, in reality, the Russian Marines stationed in the Latakia Governorate are not currently needed anymore.
Making matters worse for the opposition, the Syrian Armed Forces and their allies are situated at both the eastern and western borders of the Idlib Governorate, leaving them within 15 km of the strategic cities of Jisr Al-Shughour and Saraqib.
Leading the attack against the extremist rebel groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, and Jund Al-Aqsa in the Idlib Governorate will be the Russian Air Force, who will continue to carryout airstrikes against Jihadist factions.
This news may have been missed by the opposition’s media because their supporters are cheering as if Russia is completely withdrawing from Syria.