Russia to complete withdrawing most of Syria force in 2 to 3 days

President Vladimir Putin ordered the bulk of the Russian military contingent in Syria to be pulled out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP.

MOSCOW - Russia will complete the withdrawal of most of its military contingent in Syria in two to three days, Russian Air Force Commander Viktor Bondarev said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily published on Thursday.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the bulk of the Russian military contingent in Syria to be pulled out after five months of air strikes, saying the Kremlin had achieved most of its objectives.

The precise number of planes Russia kept at its Hmeymim base in Syria's Latakia province is secret. But analysis of satellite imagery, air strikes and defense ministry statements suggested it had about 36 fixed-wing military jets there.

Reuters could not independently verify the movements of the aircraft and it was impossible to determine whether other aircraft were flying into Syria to replace those that left.

Military analysts say the departing Su-24 and Su-25 planes, aging Soviet-era planes that have undergone some modernisation, have been the workhorses of Russia's Syria campaign.

They carried out 75-80 percent of the more than 9,000 sorties flown by Russian pilots, said Maksim Shepovalenko, a former Russian military officer who is now deputy director of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST).

Russian television has shown four Su-25 and five Su-24 jets leaving in the past two days. Russia is thought by defense analysts to have had 12 of each in Syria. Five Su-34s, and one Su-30 have also been seen leaving.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the US State Department, told reporters on Tuesday he did not have exact details of the Russian military contingent in Syria but said Moscow had "dozens of aircraft" based there.