SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The size of the military force that Russia has in Syria is likely to be reduced, the chief of the general staff of the armed forces said on Thursday. Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov arrives for the opening ceremony of the International Army Games 2017 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim ShemetovRussia’s military support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, notably through air strikes, has been crucial in defeating Islamic State and Syrian opposition forces. “God will decide how it (a reduction in the size of the military force) will happen, but probably it will happen,” Valery Gerasimov told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and military top brass in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Gerasimov declined to elaborate on the dates and scale of the possible troop drawdown. Putin hosted Assad in Sochi last Monday and discussed moving from military operations to a search for a political solution to Syria’s conflict. On Wednesday, Putin won the backing of Turkey and Iran to host a Syrian peace conference, taking the central role in a major diplomatic push to finally end Syria’s civil war, now in its seventh year. In March last year Putin said Russia had achieved its goals in Syria and ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of its forces. However, the U.S.-led coalition operating in Syria said that after his statement on the troop withdrawal Russia’s combat power was largely intact.
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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 22:32:15 IST