Vladimir Putin Says Russian Troops Will Partially Withdraw From Syria

Russian warplanes & troops arrive home after Syrian mission accomplished

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The announcement comes after the defence ministry said last week Russian Federation had "completely liberated" Syria from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), despite reports that the terrorist group still controls some remote territory there.

Russian forces are to withdraw from Syria after a two-year military campaign which Moscow and Damascus say has seen the destruction of so-called Islamic state.

Putin also said that conditions have been created in Syria "for a political resolution under the auspices of the United Nations".

And he added that if the "terrorists raise their heads" in Syria again, Russian Federation will hit them hard with powerful strikes - saying: "We will never forget about the deaths and losses sustained in the anti-terror fight both here in Syria and in Russian Federation".

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to withdraw from Syria during a surprise visit to a Russian airbase in the country on Monday morning, where he was greeted by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Syrian people would not forget the Russian servicemen after their blood mingled with the blood of the soldiers of the Syrian Arab army who died in the fight against terrorism, Assad stated, adding "This blood, shed on the Syrian land, confirms that they are stronger than terror, and the memory of the dead of both armies and their courage will be a guiding light for future generations". The speed at which it would occur would "depend on the situation" in Syria, he said. He is expected to make Russia's more aggressive foreign policy and defiance of the West a centrepiece of his campaign.

According to President Putin, the work of the Russian Aerospace Forces' units in Syria has been performed brilliantly and they are "returning home with victory".

Despite Mr Putin's talk of a drawdown, however, Russian Federation has been increasingly involved in attacks on rebel-held areas outside the capital. Positioning himself as one of the powerbrokers in the region, Mr Putin made a whistle-stop tour of the Middle East yesterday with visits to Syria, Egypt and Turkey.

A Pentagon spokesman said that Mr Putin was likely to carry out a "token withdrawal" of some aircraft, then follow up by demanding the United States pulls its forces out of Syria.

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