MOSCOW – The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says it's up to the Syrians themselves to decide on whether the country should become a federation.
Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that the future of Syria should be discussed in an inclusive dialogue involving all of the nation's religious and ethnic groups.
He made the statement while asked to comment on a plan by the Syrian Kurds to declare a federal region in the area they control across northern Syria. The idea was promptly dismissed by both the Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the rebels.
Peskov emphasized that Russia has consistently pushed for the Kurds to be represented in Syria peace talks, adding that consensus is essential for determining Syria's fate. He added that, "It's important for Syria to remain a single state."
The commander of the Russian Air Force says the withdrawal of the bulk of the Russian forces from Syria should be complete in two to three days.
Col.-Gen. Viktor Bondarev said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Thursday that the Air Force aims to meet President Vladimir Putin's deadline and pull out in the next two to three days.
Putin on Monday announced the withdrawal of most of the Russian forces from Syria to end a five-and-a-half-month campaign there. The first group of bombers left for Russia on Tuesday. Moscow didn't specify how many aircraft and troops would be withdrawn. It has not revealed how many soldiers it has deployed to Syria, but U.S. estimates of the number of Russian military personnel vary from 3,000 to 6,000.