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Putin: Russia Can Rebuild Its Syria Forces 'In Hours'

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia could scale up its military presence in Syria again within "a few hours."

Putin was speaking at the Kremlin on March 17, three days after he ordered Russian forces to partially withdraw from Syria.

He said Moscow would keep enough forces there to continue the fight against the Islamic State group and other extremist organizations.

“I'm sure that we will see new and serious successes in the near future," the Russian leader said.

In particular, he expressed hope that the IS-held ancient city of Palmyra would soon fall to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Putin also put an approximate price tag on the Russian bombing campaign, saying the bulk of the expenses -- 33 billion rubles ($481.89 million) -- had been taken from the Defense Ministry's maneuvers budget.

There will be other costs in order to replace ammunition and weapons, as well as to make repairs, he added.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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