Russia's top soldier, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, denied Tuesday that Moscow intended to end its military presence in Syria because of the escalating violence and threat of President Bashar Assad's fall.
"Why are you so worried about Syria?" Gen. Makarov demanded in response to a question about reports that Russia was in the process of evacuating its Syrian naval base and pulling out senior military personnel.
"All the plans that we have in place are working and no one is running away from there," news agencies quoted Makarov as saying.
"I would think it is premature to start making any conclusions and saying that we ran away.”