US voicing scepticism of Putin’s announcement of military victory in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Vastavam web: The United States is voicing scepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a major withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria and is arguing that his declaration of victory against Islamic State was premature.Putin, during a surprise visit on Monday to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria, declared that the work of Russian forces was largely done in backing the Syrian government against militants in the country’s war following the defeat of “the most battle-hardened group of international terrorists.”Syrian government forces, U.S. officials said, are too few, too poor and too weak to secure the country. Islamic State, and other militants in Syria, have ample opportunity to regroup, especially if the political grievances that drove the conflict remain unresolved, the officials said.

“We think the Russian declarations of ISIS’ defeat are premature,” a White House National Security Council spokeswoman said. “We have repeatedly seen in recent history that a premature declaration of victory was followed by a failure to consolidate military gains, stabilize the situation, and create the conditions that prevent terrorists from reemerging”.Marine Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said the United States had not observed any significant withdrawal since Putin’s announcement.

Although he did not predict future moves, he said: “There have been no meaningful reductions in combat troops following Russia’s previous announcements planned departures from Syria.”The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said Moscow’s past announcements of pullouts led to a recalibration of Russian forces.“Russia has previously used claims of partial withdrawals in order to rotate out select units for refit-and-repair, remove redundant capabilities, and reinsert alternative weapons systems better suited for the next phase of pro-regime operations,” it wrote in a research note on Tuesday.