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State Media Says Three Russian Attack Helicopters Return From Syria

Two of the aircraft returning home are MI-24 attack helicopters, like this one pictured at the Hmeimim airfield in Syria late last year.

Russian state media report that three heavy attack helicopters have left Moscow's Hmeymim airbase in Syria for Russia.

Two Mi-24 and one Mi-35 helicopters left the base onboard the heavy Antonov-124 transport airplane along with their flight crew and technical staff, news agencies reported on March 28.

State TV channel Rossiya-24 showed a Russian officer at the Hmeymim base saying that Moscow's forces remaining in Syria were enough "to repel at any moment any attack and accomplish any military tasks."

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this month that "the main part" of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw after five months of air strikes, saying Moscow had achieved most of its objectives.

On March 27, Putin congratulated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Syrian forces' recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State (IS) militants.

Russia has been a staunch backer of Assad in his fight against the IS extremist group and more moderate opposition forces, some of which have received support from the United States and its allies.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and TASS