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"Russia out of Syria," the front page of Moscow-based daily Vedomostireads, just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise announcement that Russian forces would withdraw from Syria.

After yesterday's unexpected announcement, a first group of warplanes has already left its Syrian base for Russia, the Defense Ministry said. "The main task now is to take every measure to promote a peace settlement and talks that have begun in Geneva," Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters. But Russia explained that it would keep its long-range S-400 air defense missiles on the ground.

  • The withdrawal surprised many, including Süddeutsche Zeitung reporter Stefan Kornelius, who writes that "all logic speaks against Russia's decision." The move comes on the fifth anniversary of the Syrian civil war and after a new round of peace negotiations began between the Syrian government and the opposition. The UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura described Russia's decision as a "significant development, which we hope will have a positive impact on the progress of the negotiations in Geneva," AFP quotes him as saying.

  • Russia's withdrawal could potentially embolden terrorist groups, which aren't part of an otherwise fragile ceasefire in Syria. A commander of al-Nusra Front told AFP that Putin's move showed that "Russia has suffered defeat, and within the next 48 hours Nusra will launch an offensive in Syria."

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Society

Gun Violence In America: Don't Blame The Victims — That Means Rappers Too

The recent shooting of Takeoff, a rapper, is another sad incident of gun crime in the U.S. But those blaming hip hop culture for contributing to gun violence ignore that rappers themselves are also victims. And the real point is that in today's America, nobody is safe from gun violence.

Gun Violence In America: Don't Blame The Victims — That Means Rappers Too

Fans wait outside State Farm Arena in Atlanta to attend the memorial service for Migos rapper Takeoff on Nov. 11

A.D. Carson

Add the name of Takeoff, a member of the popular rap trio Migos, to the ever-growing list of rappers, recent and past, tragically and violently killed.

The initial reaction to the shooting to death of Takeoff, born Kirsnick Ball, on Nov. 1, was to blame rap music and hip hop culture. People who engaged in this kind of scapegoating argue that the violence and despairing hopelessness in the music are the cause of so many rappers dying.

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