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Number of Russian troops to remain in Syria depending on security requirements — senator

About 95% of the country’s territory has been cleared of militants of Islamic State, Viktor Bondarev said

MOSCOW, October 30. /TASS/. Russian troops will stay in Syria in numbers that will be necessary to ensure security of the country, a senior legislator said on Monday, adding that Russia won’t leave Syria until it is liberated.

"Scaling down Russia’s presence in Syria when we finish the operation to liberate it will be a natural and reasonable move," the head of the Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security, Viktor Bondarev, said.

"At the present time, about 95% of the country’s territory has been cleared of militants of Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia)," Bondarev told reporters. He reiterated that fight against terrorists was the aim of the military campaign that Russia launched two years ago.

"The logic of a peacekeeping mission suggests now, as we approach the victory, that we retain in the Syrian Arab Republic only those forces and units that are necessary to complete the operation to rid the state of bandits, in numbers that will be sufficient to secure the result and maintain order and safety of residents there," the senator said. "At the same time, we will not leave the country until we liberate it," he stressed.

On Sunday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry officially stated that the US-led coalition had occupied the city of Raqqa. "This once again confirms their (coalition’s) aims, which are from fighting IS. We have no intentions to create our protectorate on the territory of an independent and sovereign country at the time of peace. Having crushed the terrorists (I hope we will manage this before the yearend), we will leave in Syria only those troops that will be able to thwart a terrorist return," Bondarev said.