HMEIMIM (Syria), March 28. /TASS/. Three strike helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces - two Mi-24 aircraft and one Mi-35, have left the Hmeimim airbase in Syria on board the Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy military transport plane that will take them to their base aerodromes in Russia.
The aircraft equipment has departed for Russia in accordance with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to withdraw the main part of the Russian aviation group from the Hmeimim airbase.
Together with the helicopters, their flight crew and engineer-technician team that serviced aircraft engaged in the tasks to protect the Russian airbase in Syria have left for Russia.
"The army aviation was engaged at the Hmeimim aerodrome in the defense and protection of the territory adjoining the aerodrome, its perimeter, escorting the aircraft taking off and landing on the aerodrome, as well as the Mi-8 military transport helicopters carrying personnel and cargoes for various missions," said the commander of the Mi-24 helicopter squadron departing for home.
He added that despite the withdrawal of the main part of the equipment and personnel, the remaining military and equipment are sufficient for "repelling any attack and fulfilling any set tasks any moment."
Previously, aircraft that were engaged in the missions to deliver airstrikes on terrorist groups’ facilities in Syria, including the Sukhoi Su-34 multifunctional bombers, Su-24M frontline bombers and Su-25 strike fighters, were redeployed to their permanent bases in Russia, under Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s order to start 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 Hmeimim 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.