Russia Says Military Beginning Syria Withdrawal
Russia on Tuesday began the process of drawing down its forces in Syria following an order by President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian defense ministry issued a statement saying technicians were preparing aircraft at the Hmeymim airbase in Latakia province for flights back to Russia. State television also showed images of equipment being loaded onto planes.
Putin said Monday the "bulk" of his military contingent in Syria would leave now that they have largely fulfilled their tasks there.
Angola's U.N. Ambassador Ismael Gaspar Martins, who holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council, said Russia's move and the launch of peace talks in Geneva on Monday means there is a mood in the council toward "a more positive outcome."
In Damascus, the office of Syria's presidency said Assad agreed to Russia's decision, but added that Russia had promised its air force contingent that arrived in late September will not leave the country altogether.
The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama called Putin Monday to discuss Russia's announcement of a withdrawal, and to talk about how to advance the political negotiations for Syria.
Myanmar Elects New President
Myanmar’s parliament has voted to elect Htin Kyaw as the country’s next president.
The retired bureaucrat from the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 360 out of the 652 votes cast in a joint meeting of the legislature.
Htin Kyaw is not a member of parliament, but he is a close confidant of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Nobel Laureate is the obvious favorite of most Myanmar citizens, but she is barred from becoming president because both of her sons have foreign citizenship.
However, Aung San Suu Kyi has declared she will retain ultimate power over her handpicked president. The military will remain powerful in the new government because it automatically holds one-quarter of the parliamentary seats and will control several key ministries.
The army’s candidate for president, General Myint Swe, placed second in the three man race and will become the first vice president.