Putin to decorate personnel who fought in Syria: Kremlin

16th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday will bestow state awards on Russian military personnel who fought in Syria after ordering the withdrawal of armed forces from the war-torn country, the Kremlin said.

More than 700 soldiers and officers from the Russian air forces, ground forces and navy, and other military officials, have been invited to take part in the ceremony, the Kremlin said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Russian strongman on Monday ordered the withdrawal of most of Russian forces from Syria saying Moscow's task had been "on the whole" completed.

Russian media and pro-Kremlin observers have hailed the drawdown a political victory for the Kremlin which they said managed to buttress Moscow's ally Bashar al-Assad and break out of international isolation over Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the first Russian warplanes returned home to a hero's welcome, followed by yet more planes on Wednesday.

Activists say that Russia's operation in Syria -- and the current partial pullback -- appear a world away from Moscow's apparent involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

Russia officially denied that it sent its troops into east Ukraine but Kiev and the West insist Moscow deployed forces across the border to buttress the separatist insurgency.

Unlike servicemen who took part in the Syrian campaign, those who took part in the Ukraine fighting largely remained unsung: they received awards behind closed doors while those who died were buried in secret.

© 2016 AFP

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