Sunday, May 31, 2015

Russia said abandoning Assad as Syria regime collapses further

(Ynet) Russia is pulling away from its relationship with embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and withdrawing key personnel from Damascus, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday, citing senior Gulf and Western officials.

"The Kremlin has begun to turn away from the regime," the newspaper said.

The report also quoted Syrian opposition sources as saying that Hezbollah and Iranian military experts have left Assad’s war room in Damascus, along with Russian experts.

There have been increasing signs in recent days that the Assad regime is disintegrating, four years into the civil war that has engulfed Syria. Last week, the Syrian president lost control of another province, which comes on the heels of previous reports that Islamic State already controls more than 50% of the country.

According to the same Gulf and Western sources, the change in the Russian position takes place against the backdrop of negotiations between the Gulf states and Moscow, a Russian response to economic sanctions imposed on it due to the war in Ukraine.

Syrian opposition sources told Asharq that Russia has evacuated 100 of its senior officials and their families from Syria via the airport in Latakia. They said that those leaving include experts who worked in the war room in Damascus, along with the Iranian experts and Hezbollah officials. According to the report, they have not been replaced.