Aprile 18, 2024

Troops at Russian air base in Syria shown packing up on state TV

People walk near a Syrian national flag at the President bridge in Damascus, Syria March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian state television on Tuesday showed personnel at Russia’s air base in Syria loading transport aircraft for return to Russia a day after President Vladimir Putin ordered most of his country’s military contingent there to start to withdraw.
The images, broadcast on the Rossiya 24 TV station, showed personnel loading equipment and boxes onto Ilyushin Il-76 heavy lift transport aircraft at Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Latakia province.
The Kremlin has used the base, which Putin said Russia would keep along with a naval facility at Tartous, to mount a 5-month campaign of air strikes to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an intervention that has tipped the balance of power in the Syrian leader’s favor.
Putin announced on Monday that “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw, telling his diplomats to step up the push for peace as U.N.-mediated talks resumed on ending the five-year-old war.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that technical staff had begun preparing aircraft to fly back to their bases in Russia in line with Putin’s orders. Russia has maintained a strike force at the Hmeymim base of at least 50 aircraft and helicopters.
“The personnel are loading equipment, logistics items and stock onto transport aircraft,” the ministry said.

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