Russia sets up permanent military presence in Syria

MOSCOW (dpa)- The Russian military has begun establishing a permanent presence at Syria's Tartus naval facility and Hmeimim airbase, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.
"Last week the commander-in-chief [President Vladimir Putin] approved the structure and composition of the main points of the bases in Tartus and Hmeimim," Shoigu told a meeting of military officials.

"We have begun forming a permanent deployment there," Shoigu said, according to an official transcript.
Russia, which has maintained close relations with the Syrian government since the Soviet era, has been the main military supporter of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in that country's multi-sided civil war.
Russia announced earlier this month that it had accomplished its mission of defeating the extremist group Islamic State in Syria and would shift its focus to restoring peace.
In January, the allies signed an agreement to enable Russia to keep a long-term military presence in Syria. That agreement was ratified by Russia's upper house of parliament on Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 27th 2017

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