Nationalists want Russian public holiday to mark victory over terrorism in Syria
The bill published on the lower house website on Monday reads that the date was chosen because on December 11 this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a personal visit to the Russian Air Force base at Khmeimim in Syria. Putin announced that the military operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and its allies in Syria had ended in victory, and ordered the withdrawal of the main part of the Russian military group.
“It was the Russian military that saved not only the Middle East but also the world as a whole from this terrible threat and contributed to the preservation of Syria as a state,” the authors of the bill wrote. “Russian military servicemen destroyed the largest nest of terrorism in the world. This was not just a victory over a small group of terrorists, it was a victory over international organized terror, unlikely to be repeated in future.”
Russia first deployed an air force contingent in Syria in 2015, after receiving a request for military help from the Syrian government, which continues to battle IS and affiliated terrorist groups. Russian warplanes began launching airstrikes on terrorists in Syria on September 30, 2015. Their work aided the Syrian military in achieving considerable success in driving jihadist forces out of the country.
In March 2016, President Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces after they achieved all of the objectives that had been initially set for them.
Later that year, in October, the Russian parliament ratified an agreement which Putin signed to keep the Russian Air Force base in Syria there on an indefinite basis. In December of this year, the lower house okayed a different agreement with Syria that allows the Tartus navy refueling facility in Syria to be transformed into a fully-fledged navy base, capable of harboring nuclear-powered ships.
A public opinion poll conducted by the state-run Russian agency VTSIOM in October this year showed that almost three-quarters of Russians believe their country should continue helping Syria after the armed conflict there is over. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they would like their country to continue sending humanitarian aid to Syria.