Russian pilots welcomed home as heroes from Syria

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By Seamus Kearney
Russian pilots welcomed home as heroes from Syria

They are being welcomed home as heroes and decorated by their military chiefs.

Fighter jets have begun landing at an air force base near Voronezh in the southwest of Russia after the Kremlin made the surprise decision to partially withdraw its forces from Syria.

Moscow says the withdrawal is possible as Russia has achieved its goals with the start of the peace talks in Geneva.

However, Russia will continue to maintain a military presence in Syria with military bases in Latakia and Tartus.

Also, the Russian army says its S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system in Syria will remain in place.

Sergei Ivanov, head of the President’s Office and a fomer defence minister, said: “This is in order to effectively provide security, including from the air, the most modern defence systems are needed.”

The Russian air force also says it jets will continue to strike ISIL targets in Syria and what it calls “other terrorist groups”.