President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces in Syria as he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in a surprise visit to Latakia's Hmeymim air base, Russian news agencies reported.
"I order the defence minister and the chief of general staff to start withdrawing the Russian group of troops to their permanent bases," RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying.
"If terrorists ever raise their heads again, we will target them with strikes that they haven’t seen so far," he warned.
"You're returning home to your homes, families, parents, wives, children and friends victorious. The Motherland is waiting for you, friends. Have a safe journey. I thank you for your service," Interfax reported Putin as telling troops there.
The Russian president has underlined that Syria has been preserved as an independent and sovereign state, adding that conditions for the political settlement in Syria under the auspices of the UN have been secured.