When Russia decided it was time to withdraw the major part of its forces from Syria, the announcement, on March 14, came as no surprise to its allies in the Syrian civil war. The Syrian government, Iran and Hezbollah had been informed in advance. The decision has, however, become a topic of debate among many, especially since the war is ongoing, main objectives have not been achieved, and a solid political path to the conflict's resolution has not been set.
A senior Syrian official told Al-Monitor that Moscow and Damascus had agreed to and coordinated on the partial withdrawal. “The timing was politically driven, and our leadership knew all the details. The Russians ensured us that they are still committed to anti-terrorism operations, and there’s still a joint operation chamber that overlooks operations in areas outside the truce map,” the official said.