Just days after implementing a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, Russian military chief claimed on Friday that Moscow has begun scaling down its armed forces deployed in the Middle East country. Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said that the warships led by Russia's sole aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, will be withdrawn first.
Russia, which first launched its airstrikes on Syrian rebels in 2015, is credited for a momentum shift in favor of its ally President Bashar al-Assad, writes the BBC. Earlier in March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a similar pull-out in which a few warplanes were flown out.
The development came as the United Nations warned the warring sides in Syria that severing water supply lines to the rebel-held Wadi Barada valley near Damascus amounts to war crime, reports Al Jazeera.
Warning of a severe humanitarian crisis, Jan Egeland, head of a U.N.-backed humanitarian task force for Syria, said that about 5.5 million civilians have been hit due to the sabotage of water supplies since December 22.