Russia's Defense Ministry: Russia has withdrawn half of its air group from the Khmeimim base in Syria

Russia has withdrawn almost half of its air group from the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria.

This was stated by Sergey Rudskoy, Head of the Russian General Staff Main Operations Department, according to RIA Novosti.

According to him, this was due to the fact that the number of terrorist groups in Syria has decreased.

Rudskoy added that since the beginning of the military operation in Syria, the Russian Air Force has flown over 23,000 combat sorties and made about 77,000 air strikes against militant positions.

He also said that they have not yet completely eliminated the potential for terrorists to exist and operate, reports Interfax. Rudskoy explained that the terrorist groups of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front “are fiercely resisting” and “demonstrate their readiness to continue an uncompromising and protracted struggle.”

According to the General Staff of Russia, since the time that Russian armed forces started to operate in Syria, 695 settlements have been freed. “This has allowed us to return more than 108 thousand refugees to the places where they live,” said Rudskoy.

In March 2016, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin announced the commencement of the withdrawal of the main part of the Russian military group from the territory of Syria. According to him, the groups began to be withdrawn because they had completed their mission. In October 2015, the US State Department said that most of the Russian air strikes were made on the Syrian opposition, which opposes the government of Bashar Assad.

In October 2016, Putin signed a decree to establish a permanent Russian air base in Syria. At that time, the Khmeimim Airfield was leased to Russia free of charge.

  Russia, Syria, Khmeimim