19:15 GMT23 June 2021
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Syria is a historic one, as it effectively marked the end of the supremacy of Daesh terrorist group, Chairman of Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky said on Monday.

    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.

    During an unannounced visit to the Hmeimim airbase, Putin ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria to their permanent bases after over 2 years of an anti-terrorist aerial campaign conducted in the Arab Republic and met with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad. The Russian leader thanked the military personnel and claimed that the main victory was bringing the chance for peaceful settlement in Syria.

    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.    

    Russia began a military campaign in Syria in late September 2015 at the request of Assad to fight Daesh. For the past two years, the Russian army has performed hundreds of airstrikes. During the Syrian campaign, Russian troops have cleared out more than 90 percent of Daesh-held territories, including the ancient city of Palmyra.

    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.


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