Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops to begin pulling out of Syria.
In an unannounced visit to the country, Putin visited the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, the Metro reported.
It is the first time he has visited Syria, and comes as Bashar Assad’s forces have now taken control of most of the country.
The air base in the heartland of Assad’s Alawite minority has been the main foothold for the air campaign Russia has waged since September 2015 in support of the Syrian government.
It has served as the main foothold for the air campaign Russia has waged since September 2015 in support of Mr Assad.
‘I order the defence minister and the chief of general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases,’ RIA Novosti news agency reported Putin said.
‘I have taken a decision: a significant part of the Russian troop contingent located in Syria is returning home to Russia.’
He previously announced in March 2016 that Russia would withdraw most of its troops from the country.