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Vladimir Putin announces Russian withdrawal from Syria during visit to airbase 

Vladimir Putin announces Russian withdrawal from Syria during visit to airbase Vladimir Putin has said Russia will withdraw the bulk of its forces from Syria following the "successful intervention" in the conflict there. The announcement comes after the defence ministry said last week that Russia had “completely liberated” Syria from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), despite reports that the terrorist group still controls some remote territory there.  Speaking to soldiers at Russia's Khmeimim airbase during his first trip to Syria, where he was welcomed by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Mr Putin said he was ordering the defence minister and head of the general staff to begin withdrawing Russian forces to their home bases.   “In two-and-a-half years, Russia's military along with the Syrian army have defeated the most battle-worthy gang of international terrorists,” Mr Putin said. “In connection with this, I've made the decision that a significant part of the Russian military contingent located in the Syrian Arab Republic will return home to Russia.” VIDEO: Putin visits Russian troops at Syria’s #Khmeimim Airbase t.co/yX35LANrqSpic.twitter.com/DVXZdl5kHS— RT (@RT_com) 11 December 2017 Moscow will continue to operate the Khmeimim airbase as well as its naval base in Tartus and will crush any further terrorist activities in Syria, he said.  “If the terrorists raise their head again, we will hit them with such strikes as they have never seen,” Mr Putin said. “We will never forget the casualties and losses that we suffered in the fight with terrorism here in Syria as well as at home in Russia.”  Vladimir Putin with Bashar al-Assad during his visit at Hmeymim base Credit: Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images The president told his troops they were “returning with victory” to their homeland and loved ones. Mr Putin's triumphant visit to Syria comes days after he said he would run for re-election in March, a vote that is expected to keep him in power until 2024, nearly as long as Joseph Stalin. He is expected to make Russia's more aggressive foreign policy and defiance of the West a centerpiece of his campaign. Assad welcomes Putin  The leaders embrace on the tarmac Mr Putin also met with president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt on Monday and was traveling on to Turkey to speak with president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of a strengthening of ties and the two countries. During the sit-down, Mr al-Sisi called for the Syria de-escalation zones established by Iran, Russia and Turkey to be expanded. Mr Putin said Russia was ready to resume flights to Egypt, which were suspended after the bombing of a Russian airliner on Halloween 2015. Russia has also been drafting an agreement to deploy warplanes to Egypt, further increasing its presence in the Middle East.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian and Turkish leaders would discuss a political solution to the Syrian war. Mr Putin has met Mr Erdogan, who he once denounced as a backstabber after Turkey shot down a Russian plane in 2015, four times in the past two months. Vladimir Putin, left, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, arrive for their talks in Cairo Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Russia's casualties have been mounting in Syria as its ground presence grew from advisers and military contractors to include special forces this fall, although the exact number of deaths remains secret. In September, Russia's top military adviser was killed by a mortar strike, and two Russians who were reportedly working for a Russian private contractor were captured by Isil and executed in September. Read more | Escape from Isil Mr Putin announced an air campaign in September 2015 to support his ally, an intervention that has turned the tide of the war and positioned Russia as one of the most influential voices in talks to deterine Syria's future. Russia, Turkey and Iran have been holding rival negotiations to the Western-backed talks in Geneva.  Al-Assad visited Sochi last month, hugging his Russian counterpart and thanking him for “Russia's efforts to save our country”. Mr Putin returned the gesture and hugged al-Assad when he disembarked his presidential plane in Syria on Monday.



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Putin declares victory on visit to air base in Syria

Putin declares victory on visit to air base in SyriaMOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory against "terrorists" in Syria on Monday during a surprise visit to a Russian military base in the county, where he also announced a partial pullout of Russian troops.



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Trump’s visit to Mississippi Civil Rights Museum underscores national tension

Trump’s visit to Mississippi Civil Rights Museum underscores national tensionPresident Trump delivered remarks at the opening event for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—while Congressman John Lewis—a civil rights icon — boycotted the President’s visit as an “insult” to the people commemorated there.



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Palestinians to snub Pence during visit over Jerusalem move

Palestinians to snub Pence during visit over Jerusalem moveBy Mohamed Abdellah and Nidal al-Mughrabi CAIRO/GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during Pence’s visit to the region this month in a snub over the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinian Foreign Minister said on Saturday. Violence erupted for a third day in Gaza in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday, which overturned decades of U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Israeli air strikes killed two Palestinian gunmen on Saturday after militants fired rockets from the enclave into Israel on Friday, which had been declared a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions.



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'Think before you tweet': Obama warns of new tech pitfalls on India visit

'Think before you tweet': Obama warns of new tech pitfalls on India visitFormer President Barack Obama discussed the perils of social media, his hope for the United States and his partnerships with Indian’s most recent prime ministers during a wide-ranging discussion at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.



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Lebanon's Hariri to visit Egypt on Tuesday: Hariri's office

Lebanon's Hariri to visit Egypt on Tuesday: Hariri's officeSaad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanese prime minister in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4, will visit Egypt on Tuesday to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Hariri’s office said on Sunday. Hariri has since Saturday been in Paris, where he met French President Emmanuel Macron, and has said he will return to Lebanon by Wednesday for its Independence Day celebrations. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until it is delivered in person and all sides in Beirut have called for his speedy return.



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Trump refuses to take questions during China visit, becoming first president since George H.W. Bush to bow to Chinese pressure

Trump refuses to take questions during China visit, becoming first president since George H.W. Bush to bow to Chinese pressurePresident Donald Trump broke with tradition during his Asia trip on Thursday as he refused to take reporter questions during or after his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.



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The North Korea Crisis Looms Over Trump's Visit To Japan

The North Korea Crisis Looms Over Trump's Visit To JapanShortly after dawn on Aug. 29, residents of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido awoke to sirens, emergency alerts and breaking news banners urging them to take cover and brace for an imminent attack.



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Protests in Seoul ahead of Trump's South Korea visit

Protests in Seoul ahead of Trump's South Korea visitSome 500 protesters took to the streets in Seoul Saturday, chanting slogans and waving banners as they accused Trump of bringing the Korean peninsula to the brink of war.



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Seville Is The #1 City You Should Visit Next Year, According To Lonely Planet

Seville Is The #1 City You Should Visit Next Year, According To Lonely PlanetIt’s about time to make travel plans for 2018, and the experts at Lonely Planet say one city should be first on your list.



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