MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. Russia will only strengthen the fight against terrorism after withdrawing the main part of the aviation task force from Syria, Federal Security Service (FSB) head Alexander Bortnikov said on Tuesday,
"We will not weaken, but instead strengthen this fight. We will continue fighting terrorism by ourselves and together with our partners. We will strengthen this fight together with our partners," Bortnikov said.
He added that Russia will stay true to its aims in this fight until the end. "Terrorism is the main problem that worries not only us but also the whole international community. We will remain true to the goals that we set," he noted.
The Kremlin press service released a statement on Monday evening that the Russian and Syrian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, agreed to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian aviation task force from Syria because the Russian Aerospace Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks which had been assigned to them. Russia will leave an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered starting the Russian troops’ withdrawal as of March 15.
Russia’s Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. 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, Moscow also involved the Russian Navy in the military operation. Four missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria.
The ceasefire between government forces and armed opposition took effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27. An hour before the agreement entered into force, UN Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria. The inter-Syrian talks resumed in Geneva on March 9.