MOSCOW, Russia, Mar 15 - Russian air force operating in Syria, are preparing to withdraw, the defence ministry announced here today (Tuesday).

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, had announced the withdrawal decision late last night.

Technicians and personnel working at the Russian air base of Hmeimim, south-east of the city of Latakia in Syria, started boarding equipment on military planes, in prelude to the 5,000-kilometre-trip home, said a ministry statement.

According to Moscow, Russian air strikes on Syria were targeting terrorist groups like the so-called Daesh and Al-Nusra Front.

Last night, and on the backdrop of the decision, US President, Barack Obama, spoke by phone with Putin, to discuss progress on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities between the Syrian government and its allies, on the one hand, and the armed opposition, on the other.

According to Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the decision to get the forces out of Syria was not at the behest of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Putin has taken the decision on the basis of results of the air campaign in Syria, and not at the request of Assad, Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying

Source: KUNA

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