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Russia's Surprise Withdrawal From Syria

"Russia out of Syria," the front page of Moscow-based daily Vedomosti reads , 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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Police and emergency services are working at the site of a shooting in Jerusalem that saw two gunmen kill three people at a bus station in the Israeli capital.

Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 ନମସ୍କାର*

Welcome to Thursday, where Hamas claims responsibility for a shooting that killed three people in Jerusalem just hours after Israel extended a ceasefire in Gaza, Henry Kissinger dies at age 100, and Singapore gets some company at the top of the world’s most expensive cities. Meanwhile, Turin-based daily La Stampa’s correspondent at the Israel-Gaza border describes conditions amid the fragile ceasefire.

[* Namaskār - Odia, India ]

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