A Russian deputy foreign minister said Moscow plans to preserve two military bases in Syria after the full defeat of the Daesh terrorist group.
Two Russian military bases in Syria, Hmeimim Air Base in the western coastal province of Latakia and Naval Base Tartus would remain in operation depending on the situation of the ongoing war with Daesh terrorists, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said on Monday, as reported by RIA Novosti.
"I think our two military bases in Syria will most likely remain functional but I do not know in what exact situation and level," he said.
During its military intervention in Syria, Russia has deployed warships, submarines and aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean. In December last year, President Vladimir Putin signed an order to expand the naval base at Tartus and allow Russian warships into Syrian waters. In January, Moscow and Damascus signed a 49-year deal for Russia to expand and modernize the facility. According to official figures from last year, some 4,300 Russian military are deployed in Syria.
Last Friday, Syrian state media announced that the army, backed by Russian firepower, had recaptured all of Deir ez-Zor city, located in the oil-rich east of the country. Syrian regime forces entered Deir ez-Zor city in September, breaking Daesh sieges of nearly three years on regime-held parts of the provincial capital.
Before Syria's war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, around 300,000 people lived in the city, the provincial capital of Deir ez-Zor along Syria's eastern border with Iraq. But in 2014, Daesh seized the city and much of the surrounding province, including vital oil and gas fields that once served as a key source of revenue for the militants. Daesh has now been driven from most of its strongholds in Deir ez-Zor, but it still controls over 35 percent of the province, much of it empty desert.
Daesh, which at its peak controlled territory roughly the size of Britain, has suffered a string of losses in recent months in both Syria and Iraq.
Daesh's self-declared, cross-border caliphate effectively collapsed in July, when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces captured Mosul, the terrorists' de facto capital in Iraq, in a grueling battle that lasted nine months. Raqqa, the militants' capital and stronghold in Syria, fell to U.S.-backed forces in October. Losing Raqqa is considered a huge blow for Daesh, which has steadily lost territory in Iraq and Syria, including Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul a few months ago.