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Black Sea Fleet marines return to permanent base after tour of duty in Syria

December 28, 2015, 8:23 UTC+3

The Black Sea Fleet marine unit was involved in fulfilling tasks to ensure security of the Russian aviation group at the Khmeimim airfield

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© Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. A unit of marines of Russia's Black Sea Fleet has returned to the permanent base after fulfilling tasks to guard the Khmeimim airfield in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Black Sea Fleet said Monday.

"The Black Sea Fleet marine unit, which was involved in fulfilling tasks to ensure security of the Russian aviation group at the Khmeimim airfield, was solemnly met at Belbek airfield in the city of Sevastopol," the statement said.

The scheduled rotation at the Khmeimim airbase will be completed by the end of 2015, it said.

According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.

On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.

In mid-November, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.

Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries.

Russia’s aircraft have made 5,240 sorties since the start of the operation in Syria, with 145 of them performed by long-range aircraft.

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