Arab League hails Russian troop withdrawal from Syria

The Arab League welcomed Russia’s decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, saying Wednesday the move would help U.N.-mediated talks to end the country’s war.

President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced on Monday that most Russian forces would leave Syria, more than five months after they started air strikes to bolster President Bashar al-Assad.

A steady stream of warplanes has flown home since then.

Russia has insisted its forces targeted Islamic State and other jihadists, but the West has accused Moscow of also hitting civilians and other opposition forces that negotiators hope will agree to a future settlement.

“The Russian announcement… represents a positive and important step towards fostering efforts … for the success of the Geneva negotiations taking place under the auspices of the United Nations and for stabilising the truce,” Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Araby said in a statement.

The Syrian government and the Western-backed opposition are holding U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva as part of a diplomatic push launched with U.S.-Russian support to end the five-year-old conflict.

Source: Reuters