The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that it is establishing a permanent military presence in Syria despite claims that the Russian presence will decrease by the end of the year.

Putin with Bashar al-Assad and Sergey Shoygu

Putin with Bashar al-Assad and Sergey Shoygu Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that its military has begun to establish a permanent presence at its bases in Tartus and Khmeimim in Syria. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu clarified that his country intends to stay in the area despite announcements of the withdrawal of most of the military forces.

Russia recently announced that it will gradually decrease its military presence in Syria; however, Pentagon officials claimed that despite the declarations by Russian President Vladimir Putin, that is not the case.

Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov said last month that his military plans to complete the reduction of forces by the end of 2017. The announcement came a day after Putin’s summit with the Iranian and Turkish Presidents in Sochi, where the three leaders met to discuss the future of Syria. During the discrete meeting, Putin congratulated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his “accomplishments in the fight against terrorism” and Assad explained that the Russian military aid “saved Syria.”