A tenuous ceasefire in Syria between the government and rebel forces that was brokered by Russia and Turkey is so far holding, and Russia has announced it will start to tamp down its military presence there, per the Wall Street Journal and BBC. "In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin, the defense ministry is beginning to reduce its armed forces in Syria," Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russia's armed forces, said, per Russian news agencies.
The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, as well as the support vessels with it, will be the first to sail out of Mediterranean waters off the Syrian coast, Gerasimov noted. The Journal cautions, however, that this may not necessarily be a permanent move and that there's no suggestion Putin is backing down from fortifying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his quest to maintain power. The BBC piggybacks on those reservations, noting that the Admiral Kuznetsov really wasn't a big factor in the fighting, and that while Russia had withdrawn some warplanes in March, the aerial support it continued to provide "remained decisive." (Read more Russia stories.)