Moscow sets no artificial deadlines for the withdrawal of its troops from Syria as this process depends on the situation on the ground, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the UK’s Channel 4 on Friday.
“We don’t like artificial deadlines,” Lavrov said. “We have been consistently reducing our military presence in Syria. And the last reduction took place few days ago and President [Vladimir] Putin mentioned about this that about more than one thousand troops have come back to Russia, and some aircraft and other equipment. So, it [withdrawal of the Russian taskforce] depends on what is the actual situation on the ground.”
According to the Russian top diplomat, Russia, together with the Syrian army and what he called the patriotic opposition managed not to allow Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) implement its plans to create a caliphate.
“But some remnants of ISIL are still there, Jabhat al Nusra is still there. They are now preventing the deal on Syria’s southern de-escalation area to be implemented fully,” Lavrov said.
“So, there are some leftovers and, besides, we do have, not actually a full-fledged bases but we have two places where our naval ships, our aircraft are allocated in Syria and they might be usefully kept for quite some time.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia had withdrawn 13 warplanes, 14 helicopters and 1,140 troops from Syria in the past few days alone.