Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a New Year's greeting to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, in which he expressed the hope that the radical changes in the gradual reconstruction of the country caused by the armed conflict would continue in Syria in the coming year, the Kremlin's press-service reports.
Putin noted that the victory over the terrorists and the prompt normalization of the situation in Syria served the interests of peace and security throughout the Middle East. In addition, he also confirmed Moscow's readiness to continue to render assistance to Syria in the protection of state sovereignty, in the promotion of a political settlement process and in efforts to restore the national economy.
The Russian military launched an operation against militants of the Islamic State at the end of September 2015.
On December 11, 2017, two and a half years after the start of the operation, Putin visited the Russian military airbase in Hmeimim, Syria for the first time, where he announced the withdrawal of the main part of the Russian troops and their return home. This happened after Putin's announcements about the complete defeat of the Islamic State in Syria.
On December 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu reported the complete return of all military personnel to Russia.