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Local Syrians Anxious and Upset Over Withdrawal of Russian Forces

“Russians have been real brothers”, Syrians around the Russian airbase in Latakia say


This post first appeared on Russia Insider

KP’s special correspondent reports from Latakia, Syria.

The news that Russia has reduced and even withdrawn some of  its forces from Syria was a total surprise in Latakia. A security officer at the Kmeymim airbase heard the news from me, right after Putin made his announcement. 

“This can’t be true”, he  said. “I’m very sorry.” 

I came across a group of young people talking and laughing. After they heard my question, they stopped, then began to talk anxiously. Finally, one of them said in English: 

“We’re all against Russia withdrawing its forces. Before your planes arrived it was as though we were standing on the edge of a precipice, and now we believe that everything will be all right. We understand that it’s up to our army to win the final victory over the terrorists, but with Russia’s help this victory would come sooner, maybe even in a year. And now… we don’t know what to expect…”

“It’s hard for us to evaluate the military consequences of that what’s happening now,” another young man said. “But I can say the one thing: the Russians proved to be real friends, brothers. We’ll never forget that. Of course, your military would leave sooner or later, but I’m very sorry that it’s happening now. It’s high time for us to solve our problems ourselves, but we could have used a little more time to strengthen our army. But we can’t overestimate your help.” 

A young woman joined the conversation, thinking Russia could have brought in ground forces, according to international rules. 

“It can’t?…I see…Well, you struck from the air. And of course, you’re right… Now it’s our job. Our army should destroy terrorists on their own, because it’s our country, and we should bring it back. Thanks a lot to your pilots. We would never have been able to do it without your help.” 

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