“Seeing is believing” says Netherlands FM on Russia leaving Syria

"Seeing is believing. But it could be a positive step", is Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders' response to the news that Russia plans to withdraw forces from Syria from Tuesday.

"It is definitely a sign, he would not just say it", Koenders said, according to Dutch newspaper AD. But again, let's see first. Het could be a positive step if pressure is actually exerted on Assad and groups affiliated to him to respect the cease-fire and constructively participate in the negotiations."

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday that he will withdraw Russian forces from Syria. According to him, the Russian intervention largely achieved its goals and this move should sever as an incentive for the political talks on Syria's future in Geneva.

Not all Russian troops will be leaving the war-torn country. The Russian ai base in the coastal Syrian province of Latakia and the marine facility in the Tartous harbor will remain operational. Putin will coordinate the withdrawal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia intervened in Syria in September last year. The Russian troops supporter Assad, who was on the verge of destruction - after five years of civil war Assad only controlled about a sixth of the Syrian territory and his forces were depleted and exhausted.

The Syrian opposition is carefully positive about Russia's announcement to withdraw. A spokesperson told CNN that "the peace talks will get a boost if the Russian plan is serious". American president Barack Obama welcomed the reduction in violence in Syria, but he stressed that the continuation of offensive actions by the Syrian government forces is a risk for the peace efforts.

The Syrian army will continue the fight against Islamic State and the al-Nursa Front with the same determination as before, the army said following Russia's announcement. The fight will continue in collaboration with "friends and allies" until security and stability in the country is restored.

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