Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian war planes to return to Moscow, offering hopes of continuing peace talks.
This week marks the fifth anniversary of Syria’s civil war, and Mr Assad’s opponents hope that this marks a shift in the alliance between Russia and Syria, though a number of Russian air bases still remain in the region.
The Assad regime has played down strains on the relationship; Russia says the withdrawal was planned.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is one of many who admit the move comes as a surprise. “Unfortunately none of us knows what the intent of Mr Putin is when he carries out any action,” he said.
Airstrikes in Yemen kill dozens
Rescue workers in Yemen say that a Saudi-led air strike on a crowded market has killed 40 people. Ali Ajlan, who works at a local hospital in the Hajja province, recalled the bloodshed and said there were bodies left scattered around the area. Residents near the market have condemned the attack, saying there were no military targets in the surrounding area. Saudi Arabia has denied targeting civilians, but there has been little evidence that any rebel forces occupy targeted areas.
North Korea defies UN sanctions
North Korea has continued to defy United Nations-imposed sanctions, with North Korean state media reporting leader Kim Jong-Un will soon test nuclear warheads. South Korea and the United States have played down the threats, with a spokesman for the Pentagon expressing doubts about the announcement. “We have not seen North Korea demonstrate capability to miniaturise a nuclear weapon, and again, put it on a ballistic missile,” he said. Recent actions by the isolated state have lead to increased tensions on the Korean peninsula, with South Korean President Park Geun-hye saying the continued sabre rattling would lead to the North’s self-destruction.
Four Corners reporter recounts experience in custody
A reporter for ABC program Four Corners who was detained over the weekend has detailed his experience in Malaysian custody. Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu were arrested after asking Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak a tough question about financial discrepancies with his government, before eventually having charges dropped and being allowed to leave the country. Speaking with ABC’s PM radio show, Mr Besser discussed the confusion and lengthy process of police questioning. The ordeal has not fazed Besser, who says they plan to continue. “We haven’t lost any material… we intend to continue investigating the story,” he said. – Ben Rochlin
Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin from Global Panorama’s Flickr photostream.