Russian Tu-22M3 bombers return to home bases after mission in Syria. (The Daily Star/TASS, HO)
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Russia will keep a naval and an air base in Syria capable of carrying out strikes against insurgents if required after a partial military pullout announced by President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said Tuesday. Putin Monday ordered "a significant part" of Moscow's military contingent to start pulling out of Syria, declaring their work largely done.Putin made the announcement during a surprise visit to the Russian Hmeimim air base, where he met Syrian President Bashar Assad and addressed Russian forces.The United States meanwhile said it has not observed any meaningful withdrawal of Russian combat forces from Syria, despite Putin's announcement of a significant pullout.The Kremlin has presented the partial withdrawal of its forces as evidence that its mission in Syria has been largely accomplished.In March last year Russia announced a partial drawdown of its forces in Syria.
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