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Britain not sure Russia pullout from Syria ''genuine'' - Hammond

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United Kingdom is not sure that Russia’s announced pullout from Syria is genuine, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters on Wednesday in Baghdad.

“If it turns out to be a genuine pullout - and we don’t know that,” he said of Russia’s announcement that it would withdraw some of its forces from Syria, without finishing his sentence.

“We’ve seen before, in Ukraine, Russia talking about a withdrawal, and then it turned out to be merely a rotation of forces,” he said.

If the withdrawal is confirmed, “it would be interesting to see for how long (Syrian) regime forces can maintain momentum on their own initiative,” he added.

“We don’t believe there could be enduring peace in Syria with Assad in power,” he added, commenting on the U.N-mediated peace talks under way in Geneva between the Syrian regime and the opposition.

Reporting Saif Hameed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Hugh Lawson