Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed Russia’s military forces returning from Syria, saying their achievements in the militant-riddled Arab country has laid the ground for peace there.
Speaking on the occasion of Russia’s military pullout from Syria, Putin said his country succeeded in strengthening Syrian army through months of aerial campaign against militant groups in Syria.
Putin said despite Russia’s partial withdrawal, which he said was agreed with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the battle against terrorism in Syria will continue.
The Russian president said his military forces created conditions for a peace process in Syria.
Putin further vowed that Russia will monitor Syria’s situation and will leave its advanced S-400 air defense missile system there as a means of precaution.
He also warned that Russia can ramp up its military presence in Syria within “several hours” if needed.
“If there’s a need, Russia literally within several hours can ramp up its presence in the region to the size required for the unfolding situation,” Putin said in the Kremlin on Thursday.
The comments came as he decorated officers who served in the war-torn country.
On Tuesday, President Putin announced that “the main part” of the Russian forces would start to withdraw from Syria, and that diplomats had been called upon to increase their efforts for a peaceful solution to the five-year-long conflict.
Russia launched its campaign against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria last September upon a request from the Damascus government. The air raids have expedited the advances of Syrian forces against militants.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.