Russian Su-33 Launching From Admiral Kuznetsov

Russia Calls Time on Syrian Campaign

Russian Security Council chief says withdrawal plans are underway...

Russian Su-33 Launching From Admiral Kuznetsov

Russia has confirmed it plans to pull its forces out of Syria.

Nikolay Patrushev, the head of Russia’s National Security Council, said "preparations are underway" for a military withdrawal.

Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war began in September 2015 and has been instrumental in helping government forces retake territory.

The air campaign has raised its profile in the Middle East and turned the course of war in President Bashar Assad's favour. 

Russia has an air base and a navy supply facility in Syria, which it plans to expand.

Previously General Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s General Staff, said Russia would "probably" reduce its military presence in the war-torn country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also said that military operations in Syria were “nearing completion”.

Syria's President Basher Al Assad has thanked the Russian military for "saving his country".

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Meanwhile, Egypt has announced that it is close to a deal with Russia that would allow Russian military jets to use Egyptian air bases and airspace.

The move is being seen as a snub to the United States, who have been providing military support to Egypt since the 1980s but have since cut or withheld aid amid concerns over Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's human rights record and his ties to North Korea.

The Russia-Egypt deal, which would allow each country's warplanes to use air bases of the other, is to last five years and could be extended further if agreed.

For Egypt, the deal is significant as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government has expanded military ties with Russia and signed deals to buy Russian fighter jets, helicopters and other weapons.

Egypt was Moscow's closest Arab ally in the 1950s and 1960s, when nationalist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser turned away from the United States and secured Soviet backing. His successor, Anwar Sadat, broke ties with Moscow and evicted Soviet military advisers.

Under Mr el-Sissi, who developed friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Egypt has expanded economic ties with Russia and shown a renewed interest in Russian arms.

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