11:50 GMT13 August 2020
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    Russia has not been mired in a protracted costly military engagement in Syria as evidenced by Moscow's recent decision to withdraw its forces from the war-torn Arab country despite initial claims that the country will be bogged down in the Middle Eastern quagmire, political and military analyst Alexander Perendzhiev told RIA Novosti.

    "This event is extraordinary in the country's history," he said. "When in the fall of 2015 the deployment of Russian forces to Syria was at the center of discussion, some said that it will be the second Afghanistan. I think that the scheduled phaseout, as well as the reduction of our forces in the spring of 2016 shows that Russia has managed to avoid a protracted costly military campaign," he said.

    On December 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Syrian government and some of the key armed radical groups had signed a ceasefire deal, prompting Moscow to say that it will pull out the bulk of its forces since it has largely achieved its goals in Syria.

    The phaseout was launched on Friday, with the battlegroup led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier scheduled to leave first. The Russian warships are heading toward Severomorsk, the main base of the Russian Northern Fleet. They arrived in the eastern Mediterranean in November.

    Perendzhiev, a lecturer at the Plekhanov Russia University of Economics, noted that Russia has managed to achieve what no one could do in Syria.

    "Russia deployed its forces, carried out powerful strikes on international terrorists and significantly weakened them. No one could do it [prior to Russia's engagement]. Apart from the military operation, Moscow has tried to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means. It has also carried out a humanitarian operation" in Syria, he said.

    The analyst also mentioned that Russia is not withdrawing all of its forces from Syria.

    Moscow will retain "its air base in Latakia," he said, referring to Hmeymim. "The naval maintenance and support facility in Tartus will be turned into a full-scale naval base. Forces deployed to the region will be tasked with upholding Russia's national interests and providing assistance, including consulting, to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). In any case the focus will be on peaceful resolution."

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    troop withdrawal, military withdrawal, Syrian conflict, Syrian crisis, Russian aerial campaign, Vladimir Putin, Syria, Russia
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