The U.N. Security Council and Syria's opposition has welcomed Russia's announcement that it will be pulling forces back from Syria. Natasha Howitt reports.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has announced that "the main part" of Russia's armed forces in Syria will start withdrawing. It comes as U.N.-mediated peace talks, the first in more than two years, resume in Geneva. The U.N. Security Council has welcomed the news. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UN SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ANGOLA, AMBASSADOR ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS, SAYING: "We have also took note, very good note, of the decision by the Russians to withdraw part of their forces, or start withdrawing part of their forces, that's what we would like to see. When we see forces withdrawing it means war is taking a different step. So that's good." But the move is unexpected, and has left many baffled - as one Syrian opposition spokesman said; "nobody knows what is in Putin's mind". (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HNC SPOKESMAN, SALIM AL-MUSLAT, SAYING: "We have to be sure about the nature of this decision and what it means. If there is a decision to pull troops then this is positive. We have to see that translated on the ground and whether it's a decision to withdraw troops or to reduce the number of warplanes in Syria." Russia intervened in Syria in September last year, turning the tide in President Bashar al-Assad's favour after months of gains by rebel fighters.