Russia is pulling its troops out of Syria following a surprise visit by President Vladimir Putin to Khmeimim airbase in the Latakia province of Syria.
During a televised speech this morning, the Russian president said that after almost three years of combat, the eradication of the “the most battle-hardened grouping of international terrorists” had been completed successfully and the large majority of military personnel will be returning home.
“If the terrorists raise their head again, we will hit them with such strikes as they have never seen,” the president said. “We will never forget the casualties and losses that we suffered in the fight with terrorism here in Syria as well as at home in Russia.”
Putin added that the military base will remain occupied assisting the navy forces with technical support.
As its ally, Russia has supplied Syria with thousands of troops since September of 2015, combating numerous opposition groups such as the Syrian National Coalition, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusra Front among others. During a meeting with state heads in November, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanked his Russian counterpart for the continual support.
A total of 70,000 sq km Syrian territory was liberated while some 32,000 terrorists have been killed in the last seven months alone, Russian military commander, Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin said.
Following his visit to the Russian airbase, Putin will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The heads of state will sign an agreement cementing the construction of a nuclear power station in Egypt, Kremlin reports. The Russian president will then continue on to Turkey in an effort to strengthen ties between the two nations.