Several Syrian and Russian opposition media outlets, and of course the Israeli one, reported news of the Russian forces evacuating military sites in Syria, with the aim of withdrawing them to Ukraine, according to these sites.
The “Syria TV” website, which broadcasts from Turkey, said that the Russian forces recently evacuated monitoring points in the countryside of Latakia Governorate, northwest of Syria, and handed them over to the Iranians and “Hezbollah”.
Talks have been escalating since last April about Russia reducing the number of its military forces in Syria to strengthen its fighting front in Ukraine, in conjunction with the slow progress on the fronts in Ukraine, according to opposition media outlets.
The “Moscow Times” website, a website for a newspaper that was published periodically every three months and presented a story that did not fit very well with the official Russian version, had published a story talking about Moscow reducing the number of its forces in Syria during the current stage, which the website estimated at more than 60,000 soldiers, half of them are officers, justifying the reduction of the number by continuing its military operations in Ukraine.
The same news referred to Russia handing over its centers of presence to Iran and the Lebanese “Hezbollah,” while at the same time referring to the difficulties faced by the Russian forces’ advance in Ukraine, which prompted the recall of additional forces from Syria.
The journalist and expert on Russian affairs, Raed Jabr, downplayed the talks about Russia’s withdrawal of forces from Syria, and stressed in an interview with the opposition “Enab Baladi” website that there is an exaggeration in the talk about reducing the Russian forces in Syria, and the impact of such a move.
Jabr said that given the nature of the Russian role in Syria, even if Russia withdrew an important part of its forces, they are ineffective forces, that is, they do not fight battles, and they are present in military camps and bases, and therefore withdrawing them means their involvement in military operations in Ukraine, without affecting on the situation in Syria.
Regarding the reports that dealt with Moscow reducing its forces at the expense of expanding the Iranian presence, Jabr pointed to the possibility of this, but not at the exaggerated level, which was reported by the Israeli press, stressing Israel’s interest in talking about an imminent Iranian threat to expand operations in Syria without looking at the Russian objections .
In response to his question about the possibility that the reduction of forces will herald a full Russian withdrawal, the expert stressed that the presence of Russian forces in Syria is permanent, and it is over for Moscow, and the reduction of forces will not affect the combat ability, given that Moscow is able to send additional forces if necessary.
Raed Jabr considered that expanding the Iranian presence in some areas is part of the regional game that Russia has often played in many stages of operations in Syria, ruling out the impact of this on the concentration of forces and the distribution of their balances in Syria now.
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