Russian Soldiers in their base in Tartus, Syria. Photo: Agency RIA Novosti/Dmitrij Vinogradov
Russia has started forming a permanent grouping of forces at the Tartus naval facility and the Hmeymim airbase in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a conference call on Tuesday.
"Last week, the supreme commander-in-chief approved the structure and the personnel strength of the Tartus and Hmeymim bases. We have started forming a permanent grouping there," Shoigu said.
On December 11, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the forces pullout from Syria. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu reported to Putin on December 22 that his order on the forces pullout from Syria had been fulfilled. Three military police battalions, the Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides and Russia’s bases at Tartus and Hmeymim will remain in Syria.
Russia’s Federation Council (the upper house) approved on Tuesday the ratification of an agreement between Russia and Syria on expanding the naval facility near the port city of Tartus, making it a full-fledged naval base.
According to the document, Russia’s vessels, including nuclear-powered cruisers, will be allowed to enter Syria’s waters and ports.