Moscow, 6 Jumadil Akhir 1437/15 March 2016 (MINA) – The first group of Russian Air Force aircraft has started to withdraw from the Hmeimim Airbase located near Syria’s port city of Latakia, Russian media reported Tuesday.
According to official Russian news agency TASS, a leader plane, Tupolev-154 liner, and multi-role Sukhoi-34 bombers were part of the first group of aircraft that were redeployed to Russia.
“Each group consists of the leader – a military transport jet [Tupolev-154 or Ilyushin-76] carrying engineering personnel and material assets and equipment, followed by Russian combat planes of different types,” Russian Defense Ministry told TASS, Anadolu Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday that Russia will start withdrawing “most” of its forces from Syria Tuesday.
“I think that the tasks set to the Defense Ministry are generally fulfilled. That is why I order to begin withdrawal of most of our military group from Syria starting from tomorrow,” TASS quoted Putin as saying Monday.
The announcement about the reduction came after a fresh round of talks to resolve the Syria crisis began in Geneva Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, said in a statement Tuesday: “The announcement by President Putin on the very day of the beginning of this round of Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva is a significant development, which we hope will have a positive impact on the progress of the negotiations in Geneva aimed at achieving a political solution of the Syrian conflict and a peaceful political transition in the country”,
Russia launched its military intervention in Syria in late September last year supposedly after a formal request by the Assad regime for military help.
Since then, it has been staging airstrikes against positions held by Assad’s opponents.
The U.S. and Turkey reject Russia’s presence in Syria on the grounds that Russian airstrikes killed mostly civilians.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to the UN. (T/P010/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)