19:11 GMT17 February 2020
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    Russia’s air campaign in Syria prevented terrorist plans to expand into Russia and other countries, as well as undermined their administrative system and economic potential, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said Tuesday.

    HMEYMIM (Sputnik) – Speaking at a ceremony marking the completion of the Russian air group’s mission at Hmeimim base, Pankov told reporters the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian military caused major harm to terrorists’ plans to expand into other regions, including Russia.

    "At the same time, both our soldiers and our Syrian colleagues have demonstrated decisiveness and skill, boldness and bravery, courage and heroism," he stressed.

    Russian military aircraft at Syria's Hmeimim airfield
    © Sputnik / Dmitriy Vinogradov
    The deputy minister noted that both the pilots and support units deserved high praise from Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

    Earlier in the day, two air groups involved in the 5.5-month counterterrorist mission in Syria left Hmeimim on Putin’s late Monday orders to begin the withdrawal of major portions of the country’s forces after completing their objectives.

    Putin said the remaining groupings in Hmeimim and the naval base in the port of Tartus would play a key role in monitoring the cessation of hostilities between Syrian government and rebel forces effective since February 27.

    Shoigu said late on Monday the Aerospace Forces' mission was successful in disrupting terrorist arms and ammunition supplies, cutting off smuggled oil channels and force back terrorist groups in a number of Syrian provinces.

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