Russia Withdraws Military Personnel from Syria
By Elad Benari
Russia has withdrawn all its military personnel from Syria and left its strategic Tartus naval center unstaffed because of the escalating security threat in the war-torn country, AFPreported on Wednesday, citing the Russian Vedomosti daily.
The respected business daily cited an unnamed source in the Russian defense ministry as saying that no Russian defense ministry military or civilian personnel were now present in Syria, a Soviet-era ally of Moscow.
The source said the decision was taken to limit the dangers posed to Russians amid a raging civil war and to reduce the threat of political damage that could result from Russians being killed by either side.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov appeared to confirm the evacuation of military staff in an interview with the London-published Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat published last Friday.
“Today, the Russian defense ministry does not have a single person in Syria,” he was quoted by AFP as having said.
“In Tartus, we never had a base in the first place. It is a technical facility for maintaining ships sailing in the Mediterranean,” he added.
The facility in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, located in the Alawite Muslim heartland region of President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, is Russia’s only such asset outside the former Soviet Union.