Arab League welcomes Russian troop withdrawal from Syria

A file photo shows Arab foreign ministers attend a summit in the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)

The Arab League welcomed Russia's decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, saying on Wednesday the move would help U.N.-mediated talks to end the country's war.

President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced on Monday that most Russian forces would leave Syria, more than five months after they started air strikes to bolster President Bashar al-Assad.

A steady stream of warplanes has flown home since then.

Russia has insisted its forces targeted ISIS and other militants, but the West has accused Moscow of also hitting civilians and other opposition forces that negotiators hope will agree to a future settlement.

"The Russian announcement... represents a positive and important step towards fostering efforts ... for the success of the Geneva negotiations taking place under the auspices of the United Nations and for stabilizing the truce," Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Araby said in a statement.

The Syrian government and the Western-backed opposition are holding U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva as part of a diplomatic push launched with U.S.-Russian support to end the five-year-old conflict.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46