On December 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Russian military airbase of Khmeimim in the Syrian province of Latakia for the first time since its establishement, according to the state-run media.
The president ordered the start of the withdrawall of Russian troops from Syria.
“I instruct the defense minister, the head of the General Staff to begin the withdrawal of the Russian group of troops to the places of their permanent location,” Putin said, when speaking to Russian servicemen.
The president added that if terrorists gain upper hand in the country, Russia will carry out strikes that “they’ve never seen.”
Putin said that during the two years of the operation Russian and Syrian forces have “defeated the most battle-hardened grouping of international terrorists.”
He also underlined that with the help of Russia, Syria has been preserved as an independent and sovereign state and that conditions for the political settlement in the country under the auspices of the UN have been created.
Earlier some Russian media speculated that Russia is planing to finish its military opeartion in Syria by the end of 2017.
In any case, the announced decision does not mean that 100% of Russian forces will be withdrawn from Syria. Russia will still have the Tartus naval facility and the Khmeimim airbase in Syria and some forces will remain there.