Russian troops return home as part of partial withdrawal plan
A group of Russian troops deployed to Syria has returned home as part of Russia’s partial withdrawal of its forces from the war-torn country.
“The battalion of military police from the southern military district (of Russia) deployed to the Syrian Arab Republic has been flown by two military planes to Makhachkala (the capital of Dagestan) airport,” the Russian army said in a statement on Tuesday.
The crews of Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers also returned to an operational airfield in North Ossetia and later flew to their permanent bases, the army said.
Later in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced that Russia will keep the Hmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia Province and its naval facility in the port of Tartous.
“The President stressed that the terrorists might try to ‘walk tall’ again in Syria. If that happens, crushing blows will be carried out,” Peskov said.
Nearly 10,000 Russian troops and private contractors reportedly took part in the operations in Syria.
According to Russia’s TASS state news agency, the Russian Aerospace Force’s aircraft conducted 6,956 flights, while helicopters conducted more than 7,000 flights during the Russian operations in Syria.
More than 32,000 terrorists were killed and over 12,000 pieces of weaponry and military hardware were destroyed during the Russian operations, the report said.
On Monday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to begin withdrawing from Syria during a surprise visit to the war-ravaged country.
Putin visited Russia’s Hmeimim air base and also held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Since September 2016, Moscow has been targeting the positions of Daesh Takfiri terrorists and other militant groups upon an official request from the Damascus government.
Putin’s decision on Monday came a few days after he declared a “complete victory” over Daesh on both banks of the Euphrates River in Syria as he stressed the significance of switching to a political process to ultimately end the crisis in the Arab country.