Russia will complete the withdrawal of most of its military contingent in Syria in two to three days, Russian Air Force Commander Viktor Bondarev said during an interview with a Russian daily newspaper published on Thursday.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, ordered Russian military to withdraw most of its fighting forces from Syria, signalling an end to Russia’s air campaign.
The withdrawal from the Hmeymim Air Base coincides with the resumption of the UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva between the Syrian regime and representatives from the opposition.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said on Wednesday that the withdrawal of the main part of the Russian armed forces in Syria would not weaken Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.
Russian air strikes in Syria began on September 30 in support of Bashar al Assad. Despite initial Russian claim of targeting DAESH, most of the Russian air strikes hit opposition held regions.
During its air campaign, Russia conducted about 9,000 sorties.
Various Syrian monitoring groups, media and social media sites, local and international NGOs along with news organisations said that Russia killed about 4,500 people in total in which approximately 2,000 of them were civilians.
The Amnesty International reported that Russian air strikes in support of Syrian regime, have resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law.
The watchdog also said that Russian air strikes could amount to war crimes.
“Some Russian air strikes appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians. Such attacks may amount to war crimes,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Russian air strikes also supports terrorist PKK’s affiliated group YPG in northern Syria in fight with DAESH terrorists.
PKK is designated as a terrorist group by US, EU and Turkey.
Amnesty also reported that the YPG committed war crimes in northern Syria, by forcing thousands of non-Kurdish civilians out of their homes and demolishing entire villages.
In the fifth year of the Syrian civil war approximately 470,000 people have died and about 2 million people have been wounded.
Forty-five percent of Syrians have been displaced and about three million refugees live in Turkey with millions of others seeking asylum in European countries.
The total cost of war in Syria has been estimated at about $225 billion.