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Russian withdrawal from Syria 'will be complete in three days'

Published 17/03/2016

A Russian Su-25 ground attack jet lands after returning from Syria (AP)
A Russian Su-25 ground attack jet lands after returning from Syria (AP)

The withdrawal of the bulk of Russian forces from Syria should be complete in two to three days, t he commander of the Russian air force has said.

Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Thursday that the air force aims to meet President Vladimir Putin's deadline and pull out in the next two to three days.

Mr Putin on Monday announced the withdrawal of most of the Russian forces from Syria to end a five-and-a-half-month campaign there.

The first group of bombers left for Russia on Tuesday.

Moscow did not specify how many aircraft and troops would be withdrawn. It has not revealed how many soldiers it has deployed to Syria, but US estimates of the number of Russian military personnel vary from 3,000 to 6,000.

President Vladimir Putin later said that Russia can again build up its forces in Syria "in a few hours" if necessary, and will continue striking extremist groups.

Mr Putin made the statement in the Kremlin while honouring Russian military officers who have taken part in the Syrian campaign.

Mr Putin emphasised that the Russian air base and a naval facility in Syria will remain and Russia will keep enough forces there to protect them and to continue the fight against the Islamic State group, al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, and other groups considered extremist by the United Nations.

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From Belfast Telegraph