MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the Hmeymim base in Latakia for the first time since the launch of the anti-terrorist operation at the request of President Bashar Assad.
"As part of a settlement in the region, today's visit by Vladimir Putin to Syria draws a line under the tough time when the IS (Daesh) militants had run the show. Today, Islamic State (Daesh) is literally cut into pieces," Chairman of Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday that the Russian military contingent had already begun to pullout from Syria, but the timetable of the withdrawal would be determined by the situation on the ground.
"It will depend on the situation," Shoigu told reporters in response to a question on how long it would take for the withdrawal of Russian forces.
Putin has emphasized that if the terrorists "lift up their head" in Syria, Russian forces will carry out strikes the likes of which "they've never seen", adding that the two bases, in Tartus and Hmeymim, as well as the center for Syrian reconciliation, would continue to operate.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, more than 54,000 terrorists were killed during joint operations in Syria. Russia still helps Syrian civilians by delivering tonnes of humanitarian aid and providing medical support on a daily basis.