MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. Russian forces remaining in Syria are strong enough to repel militants’ attacks, but more intensive political settlement efforts are required, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Tuesday, when asked if the militants’ attack against the Hmeymim air base with the use of drones was evidence the pullout of the Russian contingent from Syria had been premature.
"The remaining contingent and military infrastructure at Hmeymim and Tartus have the necessary capabilities to counter sporadic terrorist hit-and-run raids, which will regrettably continue. This merely emphasizes the need for stepping up political settlement efforts," Peskov said.
He recalled that in making the decision to pull out its military personnel from Syria "Russia proceeded from the assumption there are no grounds for conducting major offensive operations."
"Everybody, including the president, were aware that terrorists’ attacks would not come to an end overnight, but will continue," he added.
As the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier, in the small hours of Saturday, January 6, an attack by thirteen combat drones on the Hmeymim and Tartus bases was repelled. Seven drones were shot down and six others put under control and forced to land in an area held by Russian military personnel. Data retrieved from the intercepted drones were decoded and the place where they had been launched was established.
"The fact that extremists use combat drones indicates that the militants have obtained technologies enabling them to stage terrorist attacks with the use of such aircraft in any country," the Defense Ministry warned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 6, 2017 declared the complete defeat of the Islamic State on both banks of the Euphrates in Syria and on December 11 he issued orders to start the pullout of Russian forces from Syria. On December 22 Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the pullout of Russian forces from Syria had been completed. Three military police battalions, the reconciliation center and the bases at Hmeymim and Tartus remain.