Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has pulled out 1,140 military personnel and 27 aircraft from war-ravaged Syria during the past few days.
“As you know, we started withdrawing our forces during my visit to Hmeimim base. This withdrawal continues now,” Putin said at a ceremony for military college graduates in the Kremlin on Thursday.
“Over the past few days, 13 warplanes, 14 helicopters and 1,140 personnel have been withdrawn”, Putin said, adding that Russia started withdrawing its forces during his visit to Hmeimim base in December last year.
Hmeimim air base in Syria’s western province of Latakia serves as Russia’s permanent air base inside the Arab country and is adjacent to Bassel al-Assad International Airport, with which it shares some airfield facilities.
“This withdrawal continues now,” Putin further said, as the Syrian government troops, backed by Russia’s air cover, have already liberated most of the once militant-held territories from the clutches of terror groups.
Russian jets have been carrying out air raids against targets belonging to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and those of other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s formal request since September 2015. The airstrikes have helped Syrian forces advance against anti-Damascus militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.
Back in March 2016, Putin ordered the bulk of the Russian military forces in Syria to withdraw from the Arab country, saying that the withdrawal could serve as a stimulus for peace. The troops returned, however, after several rounds of UN-brokered peace talks involving anti-Damascus terrorists failed.
Daesh terrorists unleashed a campaign of bloodshed and destruction in Syria in 2014, overrunning considerable expanses of territory.
The same year saw the United States launch a so-called campaign against Daesh together with a coalition of its allies. The military alliance has done little in the fight against the terrorists, and has instead been repeatedly accused of targeting and killing civilians and hampering Syrian government operations against Takfiri terrorists.
The Syrian government then enlisted the assistance of Iranian military advisors and Russian air cover, pushing back the terrorists turf after turf. The Arab country flushed Daesh out of its all urban strongholds late last year, though the remnants of the terror outfit still attack both civilians and government troops from time to time.