Russia's defense minister meets Assad, visits Russian air base in Syria

AP , Reuters , Saturday 18 Jun 2016

File photo of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaking during an interview with Russia's RIA new agency. (Photo: Reuters)

Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu met with Syria Prsident Bashar AL Assad and discussed ways to fight “terrorist groups”, Syrian State TV reported.

The Russian defense minister has also visited the Russian military base in Syria.

The Defense Ministry said Saturday that Sergei Shoigu met with Russian pilots and visited their quarters at the Hemeimeem air base.

The ministry said Shoigu discussed the current operations with the Russian commander in Syria, Col. Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, and inspected the S-400 air defense missile systems protecting the base in the coastal province of Lattakia.

Russia has conducted its air campaign in Syria since last September, helping Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces win back some ground.

A US- and Russian- brokered cease-fire that began on Feb. 27 has helped reduce hostilities, but fierce fighting has continued in many areas. The Islamic State (IS) group and the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, have been excluded from the truce.

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