Russia establishing permanent presence at its Syrian bases: minister of defense

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According to NBC NEWS

LONDON — Russia has begun establishing a permanent presence at two military bases in Syria, the country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Tuesday.

During a conference call with the leadership of the country’s armed forces, Shoigu said President Vladimir Putin had approved the structure and staff at Russia’s main bases in Syria’s Tartus and Khmeimim.

“We have started to form a permanent presence there,” according to an official tweet quoting Shoigu, whose comments came as parliament ratified a deal with Damascus cementing the Russian presence in Syria.

The Hmeimim base has served as the main foothold for the Russian military campaign in Syria. Tartus naval facility has been in use since the days of the Soviet Union and is Russia’s only naval foothold in the Mediterranean.

Shoigu was reiterating Putin’s statements when the president announced a partial withdrawal of Russian contingent from Syria.

During a surprise visit to Hmeimim on December 11, Putin declared that the work of Russian forces was largely done in backing the Syrian government against militants in the country’s six-year civil war following the defeat of the Islamic State — a declaration of victory that some experts and the White House have called premature.

Discuss.