(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Russia Sets up Permanent Military Presence in Syria
Russia’s Defense Minister announced on Tuesday that Moscow has started forming a permanent force at naval and air bases in Syria, reported the RIA news agency.
The bases are located in Tartus naval facility and Hmeimim air base.
RIA news agency quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying: “Last week the Commander-in-Chief (President Vladimir Putin) approved the structure and the bases in Tartus and in Hmeimim (air base). We have begun forming a permanent presence there.”
The Tartus naval facility, in use since the says of the Soviet Union, is too small to play host to larger warships.
According to the RIA report, the agreement will allow Russia to keep 11 warships at Tartus, including nuclear vessels. The agreement will last for 49 years and could be prolonged further.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered on December 11 the withdrawal of his country’s forces from Syria.