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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Another group of Russian jets leave Syria: Moscow

Iran Press TV

Wed Mar 16, 2016 7:26AM

Russia's Defense Ministry says another group of Russian jets have left Syria and flown back to their home bases in line with Moscow's partial withdrawal from the war-hit country.

The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Su-25 jets and an Il-76 transport plane took off from Hmeimim airbase near Syria's southeastern city of Latakia.

On Tuesday, the first group of Russian aircraft, military equipment as well as soldiers left the Arab country. The planes included Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft and Su-34 fighter jets.

The planes were welcomed at a base near the Russian city of Voronezh.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the bulk of Syria-based Russian military forces to withdraw from the Arab country.

Putin hailed Russia's almost six-month-aerial campaign in Syria as a positive step, saying the withdrawal could serve as a stimulus for the ongoing peace talks aimed at resolving the five-year deadly crisis gripping Syria.

The Russian president, however, said Hmeimim base and the Russian naval facility in the western Syrian port of Tartus will remain operational.

Damascus says the withdrawal of Russian forces came in complete coordination with Syria and was "carefully and accurately studied."

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Moscow's move was a 'significant development' which 'we hope will have a positive impact on the progress of the negotiations."

A fresh round of Syrian peace talks began in Geneva on Monday after the first round collapsed in early February as the the main Syrian opposition group, the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), left the negotiations amid gains made by the Syrian army against militants on several fronts.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country's pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

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