Daily Management Review

As its Troops Withdraw, Russian Fighter Jets Continue Syria Raids


As its Troops Withdraw, Russian Fighter Jets Continue Syria Raids
Even after Moscow said it had begun withdrawing its forces from Syria, Russian fighter jets have continued to carry out intense air raids in the country in support of forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.
According to Al-Manar – a television station belonging to Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the Syrian president’s regime, Syrian government forces on Tuesday advanced towards the historic city of Palmyra under “heavy Russian air cover”.
On Monday Moscow had sprang a surprise by announcing troop withdrawal plans from Syria.
Islamic State destroyed many of the monumental ruins in Palmyra after it seized the city last summer. As Russian warplanes began leaving Syria following a six month campaign that was crucial in halting the momentum of opposition fighters and cementing Assad’s rule in the country’s western provinces, the Syrian army renewed its operations to regain the city.
A first group of planes had taken off for home from the Hmeymim airbase near Latakia, Russia’s defense ministry said. It  said aircraft would be relocated from the airbase to their home bases in Russia in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
Footage of an Ilyushin-76 transport plane being loaded with equipment by soldiers to be returned to Russia was aired on state television. Among the first group to set off for the long-distance flight back were an unspecified number of Su-34 fighter jets.
“Personnel are loading equipment, logistics items and inventory into transport aviation aircraft,” the defence ministry wrote. It added that Shoigu had ordered the “main part” of the contingent in Syria to be redeployed.
At an airbase near Voronezh, the first planes from Latakia landed on Tuesday afternoon and were greeted by families and friends. With television crews on hand to capture the scenes and relay it to Russian homes as a sign of the mission’s success, returning pilots were tossed in the air by celebrating crowds of comrades.
Putin’s airstrikes were supposed to hurt Islamic State but also helped keep Assad in place and divided other powers
 “We will carry out any command of our commander-in-chief at any point on the planet,” said an unnamed pilot interviewed on his return.
Many were caught by surprise at the sudden announcement by Moscow on Monday night that it would withdraw the majority of its forces. Peace talks that are aimed at finding a political solution to a conflict that has lasted five years and killed close to half a million people were given renewed impetus. The peace talks began in earnest this week in Geneva.
Moscow’s leverage over the peace negotiations amid the absence of options for western powers was highlighted by Moscow’s sudden decision which was taken after a meeting between Vladimir Putin and his foreign and defense ministers.
The deputy defence minister, Nikolai Pankov, suggested the bombing campaign was far from over even as the state television covered the withdrawal with fanfare. The Russian planes remaining in Syria would continue to carry out missions, he said at a ceremony to mark the withdrawal at the Hmeymim airbase.
It had been agreed through a mutual understanding between Assad and the Russian president, and that Russia would continue to back the regime’s army, said the Syrian government in an attempt to downplay the significance of the Russian withdrawal.