The extent to which Russia withdraws its forces in Syria after victory over Islamic State will depend on how the situation develops, but both bases will probably remain, Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told RIA Novosti.
In March 2016, President Vladimir Putin decided to withdraw most of the Russian Aerospace Forces following the successful completion of their missions. However, Russia did not renounce its commitment to supply the Syrian government with weaponry and military equipment or to train military specialists. The Khmeimim airbase and the naval logistics point in Tartus are still operational.
Syromolotov observed that if ISIS retains about 10% of the territory conquered by it previously, the al-Nusra Front will continue to operate, and fighting with it will continue. In addition, separate bands in Syria move between the groups, occasionally acting independently.
“Often we are joined [in combat] by unexpected players, who were not on the field, and then they appear, and the situation changes drastically,” Syromolotov remarked, citing the example of the Kurdish election results, which may influence whose side they take in future.
“That’s why it simply wouldn’t be realistic to guarantee anything or to set any dates,” he added.