Surprise, surprise: Vladimir Putin is pulling most of his troops out of Syria with his own version of "mission accomplished":
- “I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished," he said Monday, per RT.com. "That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow."
Moscow authorized Russian fighters to begin airstrikes in September with the stated goal of helping Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad defeat the Islamic State. Russia's "entry into the Syrian civil war tipped the balance in favor of the Syrian government, allowing it to recapture territory from rebels," says the BBC. On Monday, Putin said he coordinated the withdrawal with Assad, adding that it should give a boost to peace talks currently underway in Geneva, reports AP. He added that a Russian airbase in Hemeimeem and a naval base the Syrian port of Tartous would continue to operate. (Read more Syria stories.)