Vladimir Putin orders pullout of troops from Syria
Russian president orders removal of 'significant' troops, says both countries have achieved their mission of destroying Islamic State in just two years
President Vladimir Putin ordered "a significant part" of Russia's military contingent in Syria to start withdrawing on Monday, saying Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying Islamic State in just over two years.
Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. Pic/AFP
Putin made the announcement during a surprise visit to Russia's Hmeymim air base in Syria, where he held talks with President Bashar al-Assad and addressed Russian forces. The Kremlin first launched air strikes in Syria in September 2015.
Syrian state television quoted Assad as thanking Putin for Russia's help. Speaking in front of a row of servicemen, Putin said his military had proved its might, that Moscow had succeeded in keeping Syria intact as a "sovereign independent state" and that the conditions had been created for a political solution. Putin made clear however that it would retain enough firepower to destroy any Islamic State comeback.
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