22:17 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Syrians walk past a billboard bearing a national flag and a slogan which reads in Arabic You are the future and long live the country in Damascus on December 2, 2015

    Damascus Residents Comment on Russia Pulling out of Syria

    © AFP 2018 / LOUAI BESHARA
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    The main contingent of the Russian air force is leaving Syria after months of airstrikes on terrorist positions. The first reaction of the Syrian people to this decision was fear, but then came the understanding that the main goal has been achieved.

    On Monday, President Vladimir Putin, after reaching an agreement with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, ordered the withdrawal of the main part of the Russian air force group from Syria, noting that it had generally completed the set tasks.

    Meanwhile, the airbase in Hmeymim and in Tartus will continue to work. “I hope this is good news and not bad.  I do not know what to say to be honest, I think my friends will support me that at first we felt fear,” retired Major of Syrian Army shared.

    In the Christian district of the old city, Lara Al-Hudr said, “In the first few minutes after hearing the news I felt panic and fear. But having weighing the situation, I want to say that everything is going according to plan. Russia from the very beginning said that the operation will last about six months. On the 30th it will be exactly half a year.”

    She further said, “Secondly, you can see that Syria has become much calmer. I go around in the neighborhood of Homs even in the evening. We must trust the leadership of Syria and Russia.”

    According to a Lieutenant who was asked to share his views on Russia’s recent decision, he said, “Our army has been at war for five years. Yes, we are tired, but the enemies are tired as well. We are ready to fight on. Russia has been very helpful. But this is our war. I am sure that if the Turks or Saudis attack us, Russia will not leave us. Our friendship was built over centuries.”

    “Russia came to the rescue at a very difficult time for Syria. That has brought Syria closer to the end of the war, but I would really like to see Russian planes fly until the last terrorist is dead,” an elderly owner of an antique shop said.

    “The President of Russia once again surprised the world. Yes, we were shocked, but I am sure that the United States, Turkey, and others were very confused and this happened right before the start of negotiations in Geneva.  The aircraft can be returned at any time but reaching an agreement must happen as soon as possible,” the owner of a small barbershop stated.

    The turning point in the war against Daesh is planned in Palmyra. The liberation of the ancient city will open the possibility to transfer troops to the point of blockade at Deir ez-Zor. It will help organize the attack on the so-called capital of terrorists, Raqqa.

    “After Russia showed its strength, dozens of groups, of course, agreed to a truce. No one wants to die, but now the war is in the north of Aleppo and Idlib against Jabhat al-Nusra and in the northeast against Daesh. Gradually a clear front line is emerging.”

    The residents of Damascus understand that talks about the end of war are still premature. Although after the beginning of the ceasefire, missiles fly much less and the security continues to inspect all vehicles at numerous checkpoints.

    Earlier this year, terrorists were able to carry out a series of major terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 200 civilians. However, stabilization of the situation as a result of the ceasefire is encouraging and gives hope to Syrians to believe that peace is not far off.

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    Tags:
    citizens, terrorism, interview, war, Daesh, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Syria, Damascus
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