Putin says Trump 'right' to withdraw US troops from Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he backed US counterpart Donald Trump's decision to order troops back home from Syria after declaring victory over Islamic State forces.
"The fact that the US has decided to withdraw its troops is right," Putin said during his annual press conference.
Trump on Wednesday declared in a video message that "we won" and said that the troops are "coming back now."
Putin said that "as concerns victory over IS, on the whole I agree with the US president," adding that "we have dealt serious blows against IS in Syria."
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.
"We don't see any signs of withdrawing US troops yet, but I concede that it is possible," he said.
Russia is a key ally of Assad, and its military intervention beginning in 2015 turned the tide of the war in his favour.
US allies were stunned on Thursday after President Donald Trump declared victory over the Islamic State group in Syria and abruptly ordered the withdrawal of US ground troops from the country.
The decision runs counter to long-established US policy for Syria and the region. It blindsided lawmakers, the Pentagon and international allies alike.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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