MOSCOW: Russia has begun a partial withdrawal of its troops in Syria under the order of President Vladimir Putin, local media reported on Tuesday.
Putin announced the withdrawal during an unannounced visit to the Hmeymim military airfield in Syria on Monday.
The first withdrawal includes 23 warplanes, two Ka-52 helicopters, and partial military troops composed by contingents, special operation forces, field hospital troops and demining teams, Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Syria, was quoted by Tass news agency as saying.
Surovikin also pointed out that Russia will keep two military bases in Syria, the Hmeymim airbase and the Tartus naval base, which will guarantee stability of Syria in the future.
Local media reported that with the support of the Russian air force, the Syrian army has liberated 98 percent of territory controlled by terrorist groups in the past two years.
With 69 warplane deployed in Syria, Russia spent an average of 156 million rubles (2.6 million U.S. dollars) every day in the war-torn country. Moreover, 40 Russian servicemen died and at least seven pieces of Russian military equipment were destroyed in Syria since September 2015 when Moscow began military operations against terrorist groups in Syria at the request of Damascus, according to the reports.