Vladimir Putin welcomes Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from war-torn Syria

Beirut (Lebanon): Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the US decision to withdraw its forces from Syria.

Speaking Thursday at his annual news conference, Putin said he agrees with US President Donald Trump, who had said Wednesday that the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group removes the need for the US military presence in the country.

Putin reaffirmed the long-held Russian argument that the US presence in Syria is illegitimate because it hasn't been vetted by the UN Security Council or approved by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

Putin added that "if the US decided to withdraw its contingent, it has done the right thing." Russia is a key ally of Assad, and its military intervention beginning in 2015 turned the tide of the war in his favour.

The Russian leader says it remains to be seen if the US carries out its intention, noting Washington's repeated promises to end its 17-year presence in Afghanistan.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2018 21:31:04 IST