Moscow says to continue airstrikes in Syria

MOSCOW, March 15 (KUNA) — Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Nikolai Pankov said on Tuesday his country would continue bombing targets in Syria in spite of an announced partial withdrawal of ground troops.
“The Russian air force has the task to continue carrying out strikes on terrorist facilities,” Pankov was quoted by the Russian Interfax news agency as saying Speaking to reporters at Russia’s air base in Hmeymin, Syria, the Russian official said: “Certain positive results have been achieved. A real chance has emerged to put an end to this long-running standoff.” “But it is still early to talk about victory over terrorism. The Russian aviation group has the task to continue carrying out strikes on terrorist facilities,” he added.
Russia is not withdrawing jets from Syria in an attempt to pressure the Syrian President, according to Kremlin.
“Moscow is not attempting to apply pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad by withdrawing its Aerospace Forces from the country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suddenly ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to begin withdrawing Russian military groups from Syria, saying the six-month military intervention had largely achieved its objective.
In a statement announcing the withdrawal, the Kremlin said Putin and Al-Assad agreed that the actions of Russia’s air force in Syria had allowed them to “profoundly reverse the situation” in connection to fighting terrorists in the region.
“The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,” Putin added. “I believe that the task put before the defense ministry and Russian armed forces has, on the whole, been fulfilled.” However, Moscow will maintain a military presence in Syria, and a deadline for complete withdrawal has not yet been announced. Putin said that the existing Russian airbase in Hmeymim in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous would continue to operate. (Pick up previous)