Centcom: Majority of Russian strike aircraft have left Syria

Centcom: Majority of Russian strike aircraft have left Syria
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A majority of Russian strike aircraft have left Syria, U.S. Central Command said on Friday.

“What we assess is that the majority if not all of their strike aircraft have left,” said Centcom spokesman Air Force Col. Pat Ryder at a briefing. 

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He also said the U.S. has not seen any Russian airstrikes in the last week. 

“We have not seen the Russians do any airstrikes,” he added. Syrian aircraft are still flying, he said. 

The about-face comes after a United Nations-brokered ceasefire took effect on Feb. 27. Although the moderate Syrian opposition has documented hundreds of violations by Syrian and Russian aircraft against the moderate rebels, overall violence has decreased. 

Russian air forces first began striking the opposition in September, to shore up ally Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, which was facing setbacks at the hands of the rebels. 

Russians do still maintain and use artillery in support of Syrian regime operations, Ryder said. 

Ryder said he's seen “some” Russian troops move out of the country, but there has not been “too much movement.” 

Ryder said they are supporting regime strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Palmyra and Tadmur in Syria.