TEHRAN, Dec. 11 (Press Shia Agency) – In a surprise visit to Russian military base in Syria, Russian President Putin met his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad and ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a surprise visit to the Hmeymim (Khmeimim) Russian military base in Syria’s Latakia province, Monday, Al-Masdar news outlet reported.
During the visit, Putin announced the beginning of the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from the country.
Putin made the surprise visit to Syria ahead of planned trips to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to discuss bilateral relations including joint energy projects as well as the security situation in the Middle East, in particular the Syrian conflict and US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli regime.
He said the two countries’ forces would respond with power strikes if “terrorists raise their heads” again in Syria.
Addressing Russian servicemen gathered at the base, he said, “The task of fighting armed bandits here in Syria, a task that it was essential to solve with the help of extensive use of armed force, has for the most part, been solved and solved spectacularly. I congratulate you!”
Mr. Putin, who confirmed last week he would seek re-election in 2018, also announced that Russia would keep its Hmeymim air base in the Latakia Province as well as its naval facility at Tartous “on a permanent basis”.
The visit marks Mr. Putin’s first trip to Syria and comes as the Syrian government forces have retaken control over most of Syria under Russian air cover.
The air base has served as the main foothold for the air campaign Russia has waged since September 2015 in support of President Assad.
Putin’s visit follows the Russian announcement last week that the Syrian army under the Russian air cover routed the Islamic State in eastern Syria and fully restored control over the border with Iraq.