Russia reports pullout from small base in Syria

  27 June 2013    Read: 206
Russia reports pullout from small base in Syria
Russia has evacuated all military personnel from its small naval base in Syria, Russian news organizations reported Wednesday.
The base, at Tartus on the Mediterranean, has been Russia`s only foothold in the Middle East. Although it is a minor facility, its importance has grown as Russia continues to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its war against rebel forces.

A 16-ship Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean remains on post, reports said. Cyprus has made its ports available to the Russian fleet if needed.

Word that Russian forces had pulled out of Syria first came in an interview with Mikhail Bogdanov, the deputy foreign minister, published in the newspaper al-Hayat on Friday. Russian newspapers and agencies reported Wednesday that they had confirmed the evacuation with unnamed personnel in Russia`s military and Foreign Ministry.

“We have neither servicemen nor civilians in Syria anymore,” the newspaper Vedomosti reported, quoting an unnamed Defense Ministry employee. “Or Russian military instructors assigned to units of the Syrian regular army, for that matter.”

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