Russia's military says Russia has begun a drawdown of forces in Syria. Sara Hemrajani reports.
The Russian head of general staff saying Moscow has begun a drawdown of military forces in Syria. President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial pullout of forces after negotiating a ceasefire deal with Iran and Turkey in December. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HEAD OF THE RUSSIAN GENERAL STAFF VALERY GERASIMOV, SAYING: "The first ones to leave the conflict zone will be ships of the carrier group of the Northern fleet headed by aircraft carrier Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov. I would like to note that naval personnel deployment in the operation against terrorist groups allowed to liberate Syria's economic capital Aleppo from rebels in the shortest possible time." The Admiral Kuznetsov, deployed in October last year, has been operating in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast. Large-scale strikes on rebel forces were launched from the fleet in November. Russia's involvement has been credited for helping tip the bloody stalemate on the battlefield in favour of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after more than five years of fighting. The truce, which came into effect on December 30th, has mostly been holding. Its sponsors say it excludes operations against Islamic State and Islamist militias.