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Britain doubts Russia’s announced Syria pullout

Associated Press

MOSCOW – Britain’s foreign minister says he is skeptical about Russia’s announced military withdrawal from Syria.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told lawmakers in the House of Commons that Russia had made past pledges to pull its troops out of Ukraine, “which later turned out to be merely routine rotation of forces.”

He says that “because Russia is completely un-transparent about its motives and its plans, we can only speculate.”

Hammond says a genuine de-escalation by Russia “would be welcome,” and urges Moscow to use its influence on President Bashar Assad’s government to seriously engage with the opposition.

Hammond said that “Russia has unique influence to help make these negotiations succeed and we sincerely hope that they will use it.”

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