[Ed. – We’ll see. Obviously, Russia isn’t pulling out of Syria altogether. There hasn’t been a time in the last 50+ years when Moscow hasn’t had a military presence in Syria, and that’s not going to change now. Some tactical assets for ground warfare may pull out, including tac bombers, helicopters, and infantry. The navy and reconnaissance assets will stay. It may be that Russia will be giving Iran a freer hand in Syria, but it’s also too early to tell that. Stay tuned.]
Russian President Vladimir Putin, on a surprise visit to Syria Monday, announced the abrupt withdrawal of Russian forces after a deployment that has evidently succeeded in preventing the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russian pilots began returning home immediately, according to the Kremlin.
Visiting the Hmeimim airbase in Latakia province – the hub of Russia’s military operation in Syria – Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Assad and addressed Russian personnel, thanking and congratulating them on their achievements. …
Putin’s unexpected visit to Syria – his first as president – was added onto a scheduled trip to Egypt. Russian media say the president will also go to Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about President Trump’s Jerusalem stance.