(RUSSIA, LANKAPUVATH) – Russia has begun withdrawing some of its troops from Syria, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial withdrawal during an unannounced visit to Syria on Monday.
Russian support has been crucial in turning the tide of Syria’s civil war in favour of government forces, led by president Bashar al-Assad.
Mr Putin made a similar withdrawal announcement last year, but Russian military operations continued.
When asked how long it would take for Russia to withdraw its military contingent, Mr Shoigu said that this would “depend on the situation” in Syria.
The Russian president was met by Mr al-Assad at the Russian Hmeimim airbase near Latakia.
Mr Putin said: “I order the defence minister and the chief of the general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases,” according to the Russian RIA Novosti news agency.
“I have taken a decision: a significant part of the Russian troop contingent located in Syria is returning home to Russia,” he added.