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Russia has no immediate plans to withdraw troops from Syria: Putin

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-06-07 23:20

MOSCOW - Russia has no immediate plans to pull its troops out of Syria, but may do it quickly when conditions permit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

"The Russian military will stay there as long as it is beneficial to Russia and in fulfillment of our international obligations," Putin said during his annual televised "Direct Line" Q&A session.

Putin said that the Russian participation in fighting terrorists in Syria was an "important and noble mission" aimed at defending the interests of Russia and its citizens.

According to him, thousands of terrorists originating from Russia and Central Asian countries have concentrated in Syria.

It is preferable to neutralize them in Syria than wait until they come to Russia with weapons, he said.

Russia now maintains two military facilities in Syria, namely the Tartus naval base and the Hmeymim airfield, under an agreement with the Syrian government.

"If needed, we will be able to promptly withdraw our military personnel at no material costs," he said.

Russia started participating in anti-terrorist operations in Syria in September 2015 at the invitation of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, predominantly with missile strikes in support of the Syrian army.

In December 2017, the Russian military announced that Syrian troops supported by Russian servicemen have completed the destruction of Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Syria. Later, Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from the war-torn Mideast country.

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