On Friday, a group of French lawmakers headed by Mariani started its three-day trip to Crimea, the second visit since last July.
"I am very thankful to the Russian naval forces and to Sevastopol, as a naval base, for their part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. Amid ever growing number of deadly attacks in Europe, we should realize that the Daesh, Islamists are our common enemy," Thierry Mariani, who is a member of the French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Saturday during the meeting with the authorities of the city of Sevastopol.
Syria has been mired in civil war since March 2011, with government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad fighting numerous opposition factions and extremist groups, such as the Islamic State and Nusra Front, both banned in Russia and various countries. Russian naval forces operate in Syria and participate in counter-terrorism operations.
In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the pullout of the bulk of the Russian contingent in Syria as the anti-terrorist campaign's objectives had broadly been completed. Following Putin’s announcement of the withdrawal, Moscow said that some Russian military personnel would remain at the Hmeimim air base as well as the naval base at Tartus to observe the implementation of the US-Russia-brokered ceasefire, which came into force across Syria on February 27.