Russia pulls its troops out of Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin (image) ordered a large number of Russian troops to pull out of Syria. According to Putin, Russia’s goal in Syria has been mainly accomplished, and therefore, the troops are no longer required there. In September last year, Russia sent its forces to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stay in power and help the Syrian government recapture lost territory. A civil war has been going on in Syria for the last 5 years. Over half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes because of the fighting. (Syria’s population is 22 million, so that’s over 11 million people.)

It all started in March 2011 in the town of Deraa, located in southern Syria. Some teenagers were arrested because they wrote graffiti asking for changes in the country. The kids were mistreated by the police. People started protesting in Deraa and the protests spread to other cities in Syria. The protesters demanded more freedom and changes to some laws. Initially, the protests were peaceful. However, the government started using force to stop the protests, and thousands of people were killed or put in jail. Protesters then started demanding that the Syrian president resign, and Assad (image) refused to step down. Rebel groups formed and started fighting Assad’s troops to bring down his government, and a civil war broke out in the nation. The United States, Turkey, and a bunch of other nations urged Assad to step down and bring an end to the civil war.

Things became more complicated in 2014 when a group called the Islamic State (IS) entered the picture. The group started in Iraq, and had taken over parts of that country. With a civil war going on in Syria, the IS was able to take over parts of Syria as well. The IS started fighting the rebel groups and Assad’s government. In 2014, the United States along with a few other nations sent in fighter planes to stop the IS from gaining control in Syria. Russia, an ally of Assad, sent its troops six months ago to help the Syrian government. According to the Russian government, the Syrian government was able to get back 10,000 sq km (4,000 sq miles) of territory it had lost. Peace talks between the Syrian government and the rebel groups recently started in Switzerland.

Image Credits: Kremlin.ru for Assad and Putin’s image
Sources: BBC, http://www.unog.ch, http://en.kremlin.ru