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Next group of Russian warplanes ready to leave Syria — defense ministry

March 16, 2016, 6:55 UTC+3

Long-range flights from Hmeimim are made in groups

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MOSCOW, March 16./TASS/. A new group of Russian warplanes has left the Hmeimim air base in Syria for their permanent locations in Russia, Russian Defense Ministry’s press service and information department has reported.

It said the group includes the ‘leader plane’ - an Ilyushin-76 aircraft, as well as Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes.

Long-range flights from Hmeimim are made in groups, the defense ministry said. "Each group consists of the leader - a military transport jet (a Tupolev-154 or Ilyushin-76) carrying engineering personnel and material assets and equipment, followed by Russian combat planes of different types," the Defense Ministry explained.

The group flies in this formation until it crosses the border of the Russian Federation, and then the planes head for their respective bases, making stops for refueling and maintenance, if need be, the Defense Ministry said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered starting the pullout of the main Russian air group from Syria as of March 15. He said the tasks set to the Russian military had been coped with "by and large."

Russia joined the operation against terrorists in Syria on September 30, 2015 at the request of Syrian president Bashar Assad. Ceasefire took effect in Syria on February 27, 2016. It had been agreed by Russia and the United States. The ceasefire does not apply to the groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia), and also other groups declared terrorist by the UN Security Council.

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