White House Too early to weigh Russia’s withdrawal from Syria
The United States is monitoring Russia’s withdrawal from Syria but it is too soon to tell what impact the move will have on the country’s civil war or the region at large, the White House said on Tuesday.
“It’s obviously a move that we’ll be watching. The earliest indications are that the Russians are following through, but it’s still too early to determine on this point what impact it will have on the broader situation,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing.
He added that Russia did not give the United States direct advance notice of its decision to leave Syria, and that he could not speculate on motives behind the move. On Monday, Moscow made a surprise announcement that it started to withdraw its forces that have tipped the five-year war President Bashar al-Assad’s way. “If they continue to follow through … then that would be a positive outcome,” Earnest said.
The White House reiterated its position that Russia’s aggressive military moves in the region had hindered the peace talks aimed at forming a political solution in Syria. Earnest also echoed earlier comments from a U.S. envoy that the withdrawal could help boost talks in Geneva.
“We are seeing some halting progress on the diplomatic track, and we’re encouraged by that,” he told reporters.
“What we’re focused on is trying to advance these political talks,” Earnest said, adding that it was up to the international community to coordinate and work effectively together. “We’ll see what kind of progress we make.”