Putin orders partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived at a Russian military air base in Syria. (File photo: AP)

President Vladimir Putin on Monday arrived at Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Syria for a surprise visit, Russian news agencies reported.

The Russian president ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria.

Putin was welcomed at the base by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, among other officials.

Tass said that Putin's plane landed at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia, the heartland of Assad's Alawite minority.

The visit marks Putin's first trip to Syria and comes as Assad's forces have retaken control over most of Syria under the Russian air cover.

The air base has served as the main foothold for the air campaign Russia has waged since September 2015 in support of Assad.

Last Update: Monday, 11 December 2017 KSA 13:13 - GMT 10:13