MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Another group of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-24M bombers has taken off from the Syrian airbase Hmeimim to Russia, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.
"Another group of Russian aircraft has taken off from the Hmeimim airbase to their permanent bases in the Russian Federation. The group of the Su-24M bombers is led by an Ilyushin Il-76 plane," the report says.
On Wednesday morning, the Su-25 strike fighters of the Russian Aerospace Force group in Syria flew off to Russia. On Tuesday, the Su-34 fighter-bombers returned to their home bases in Russia.
The Defense Ministry said that Russian aircraft are being withdrawn from Syria in groups. Each of them comprises Tupolev Tu-154 or Ilyusin Il-76 military-transport plane carrying engineers, aviation equipment and materiel. After the groups reach Russia’s borders the planes disperse and fly separately to their base aerodromes. They make stopovers, in necessary, at Russian military airfields for refueling and technical checkup.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to begin the pullout of the main part of the 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." Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov earlier said that strikes against terrorists would continue.
Russia joined the operation against terrorists in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of Syrian president Bashar al-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 Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra groups (both outlawed in Russia), and also other groups declared terrorist by the UN Security Council. Russia will leave an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire. The military remaining in Syria will be protected by the air defense systems deployed at Hmeimim air base.