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Russian warplanes start leaving Syria on Putin's orders

Russian military planes, which were involved in a five-month campaign in Syria, are departing the Khmeimim airbase. The aircraft are deploying in formations of transport planes and fighter and bomber jets.

The first group of warplanes have departed from the Latakia airbase, said the Russian Ministry of Defense.

“The first group of Russian planes has left the Khmeimim base and flew towards their respective bases in Russia. The formation is led by a Tu-154 and includes Su-34 multipurpose bombers,” the ministry said in a statement.

Hours later the group landed at a military airfield in Voronezh, where it was welcomed by chief of the Russian Air Forces, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev.

WATCH 1st VIDEO of Russian jets taking off for home from Syria airbase

On Monday evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow’s decision to withdraw the main part of Russian forces from its Syrian airbase in Latakia. This brings to an end the anti-terror operation launched on September 30, 2015. Putin explained that the operation’s objectives have been generally achieved.

To control the observation of ceasefire agreements in the region, Moscow will maintain its Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province and a base at the port of Tartus, he added. 

READ MORE: 9,000 sorties, 400 localities freed: What Russia has achieved during its 5-month Syria operation

The announcement came as the UN-mediated talks on Syria resumed in Geneva on Monday.