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MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. The Russian military contingent will stay in Syria to protect the Hmeimim and Tartus bases, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
"I want to remind you that the president has made a decision to withdraw our contingent. But he has also made a decision that the Hmeimim and Tartus temporary bases will stay and their security will be ensured," the presidential spokesman told journalists, commenting on media reports referring to the US private intelligence and analytical company Stratfor, which claimed that Russia had deployed more combat hardware in Syria over the past few days.
Specifically, Stratfor mentioned Russian aircraft and helicopters.
"As for these reports, the best addressee of these issues is the Defense Ministry," the Kremlin spokesman said.
President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Russia’s Aerospace Force on March 17 that "our Tartus and Hmeimim bases whose personnel will continue their service there are reliably protected from the land, sea and the air."
"All the components of the deployed air defense system, including the short-range systems Pantsyr-F and the long-range complexes Triumf (S-400), will be on constant combat duty," Putin said.
As the Russian president said, "all the partners have been warned and know: our air defense systems will be used against any targets, which we’ll consider to pose a threat to Russian servicemen. Let me emphasize, against any targets."