Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Shoygu speak during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow.
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President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to withdraw most of its forces from Syria, timing his move to the launch of Syria peace talks Monday – an endgame that allows the Russian leader to cash in on his gains and reduce his risks in the conflict.At the same time, Putin made it clear that Russia will maintain its air base and a naval facility in Syria and keep some troops there.Syria's state news agency also quoted Assad as saying that the Russian military will draw down its air force contingent but won't leave the country altogether. "The presidents called for an intensification of the process for a political settlement to the Syria conflict, and voiced their support for the U.N. talks starting in Geneva between the Syrian government and opposition," the Kremlin said.Announcing his decision in a televised meeting with Russia's Foreign and Defense ministries, Putin said the Russian air campaign has allowed Assad's military to "radically" turn the tide of war and helped create conditions for peace talks. The number of Russian soldiers in Syria has not been revealed. U.S. estimates of the number of Russian military personnel in Syria vary from 3,000 to 6,000 .
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