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Syrian opposition skeptical of Russian troop pullout

While some opposition factions hope Russia's reported military withdrawal from Syria will encourage a political solution, others fear Iran and regime forces will exploit the vacuum.

Russia's Dec. 11 announcement of its intention to reduce the number of its military forces operating in Syria was the second such declaration since the Russian intervention started on Sept. 30, 2015. The first time Moscow announced a partial pullout was on March 15, 2016, about six months after the start of the Russian campaign in Syria.

However, the intensity of subsequent Russian airstrikes against areas controlled by the Syrian opposition, as well as the regime's subsequent gains on the ground, raised doubts among opposition ranks and the international community about the seriousness of the first withdrawal.

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