Having announced the total defeat of ISIS in Syria just days ago, the Russian armed forces have accomplished their mission and are heading home!
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, after he paid a surprise visit and arrived @ Khmeimim Airbase in Syria’s Latakia province on Monday morning.
A “significant part” of the Russian military contingent in Syria should return to Russia, Putin announced, addressing Russian military personnel at Khmeimim. The order to withdraw followed the defeat of “the most battle-hardened grouping of international terrorists” by the Russian and Syrian militaries in the space of two years.
Putin was greeted by his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, and by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, in a brief stop on the Russian leader’s way to bilateral talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, followed by a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.
The commander of the Russian forces in Syria, Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin, informed Putin that about 70,000 sq km of Syrian territory had been liberated and 32,000 terrorists killed in the last seven months of the operation. Russian special forces, military police, sapper teams and 25 aircraft will now leave Syria, and the field hospital will be removed.
Putin also warned that should terrorists attempt to “rear their heads” in Syria again, Russia will strike them as “they have never seen before.” Russia will continue to use Khmeimim Airbase and the Syrian port of Tartus, which provides technical support for the Russian Navy, while the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria will also remain.
President Assad once again expressed deep gratitude to the Russian Air Force, following up on his surprise visit to Russia’s Sochi just three weeks ago, when the Syrian leader had also expressed thanks for Moscow’s help in the fight against terrorism.
The Russian General Staff declared the liberation of Syria from ISIS on December 6, saying that “all terrorist units of ISIS” in the country had been destroyed. Putin later said that the military work was completed “with a full victory,” adding that there “might be some spots of resistance.”
Russia’s campaign in Syria was launched on September 30, 2015, after Damascus asked for Moscow’s help in the fight against extremist Takfiri forces trying to overthrow the government. In March 2016, Russia partially withdrew its air force from Khmeimim Airbase, saying its objectives there had been largely achieved.
RT.com / AA-Magnum News 2017.