Russia Starts Forming Permanent Groups in Syria's Tartus, Hmeimim Bases: Shoigu

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Russia has started forming a permanent group in Syria's Tartus and Hmeimim, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a conference call on Tuesday.

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"Last week, the supreme commander-in-chief approved the structure and staff of the main bases in Tartus and Hmeimim. We started forming a permanent group there," Shoigu said.

The statement follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise visit to the Hmeimim airbase on December 11, and his order to start the withdrawal of the main part of Russian troop contingents in the region back to the places of their permanent location, with the bases in Hmeimim and Tartus maintaining their operation, Sputnik reported.

The S-400 system ensures the anti-aircraft defense of the Hmeimim airbase, while S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Bastion coastal missile systems with cruise missiles, cover the Russian Navy base in Tartus.

Russia began a two-year long military campaign in Syria in late September 2015 at the request of Assad to fight Daesh (ISIL or ISIS), resulting in the clearing out of more than 90 percent of Daesh-held territories, including the ancient city of Palmyra, and killing of over 54,000 terrorists.

However, Russia continues its humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country, delivering tones of aid and providing medical support on a daily basis.

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