Vladimir Putin confirmed that Russia would maintain a permanent air base and naval facility in Syria after announcing plans to withdraw some troops from the country.

The Russian president’s announcement came during a visit to the Khmeimim base in Latakia, where Putin told Russian troops they would be “returning” to their homes “victorious.”

The visit marks Putin’s first trip to Syria and came after launching his bid last week to be re-elected as Russia’s president.

The motherland is waiting for you, friends. I thank you for your service.”

– Putin to Russian troops

“You’re returning home to your homes, families, parents, wives, children and friends victorious,” said Putin.

“The motherland is waiting for you, friends. Have a safe journey. I thank you for your service.”

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The partial withdrawal of troops came after the Russian defence ministry said last week that Moscow had “completely liberated” Syria from the Islamic State group.

 

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Featured image courtesy of AP