07:48 GMT30 October 2020
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    Russia could create new infrastructure at the country’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria, including the construction of the second runway and improvement of its air defense capabilities, a senior lawmaker in Russia's upper house of parliament said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Hmeymim air facility and a naval facility in the port of Tartus remain operational while Russia's S-400 and Pantsir air defense systems continue to be on duty in Syria to protect Russian servicemen in the war-torn country.

    "We are in Syria for the long haul. That’s why improvement of infrastructure, both at the airdrome and in the area of its dislocation is the issue that should be solved in the foreseeable future," Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, said in an interview with RIA Novosti, adding that the process could last for up to three years.

    He added that Russia could construct "at least" one more runway, improve the base’s air defense capabilities and build necessary facilities.

    According to the lawmaker, the location of the Russian S-400 air defense system may also be subject to modification.

    Russia launched military operation against terrorist groups in Syria in September 2015, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russian military aviation had carried out more than 9,000 sorties.

    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. At the same time, Russia did not abandon its obligations to provide the Syrian government with weapons and military equipment, train military specialists. 

    On October 7, Russia's lower house of parliament ratified an agreement with Syria that authorizes the deployment of a Russian air group at the Hmeimim airbase for an indefinite period of time. According to the document, Moscow may use the base "free-of-charge" and carry out supplies of necessary equipment and ammunition to the base without customs or any other duties.


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