Russia’s military on Friday said it has begun scaling down its deployment to Syria, with Moscow’s sole aircraft carrier set to be the first to quit the conflict zone.
The Kuznetsov group will return to its home base in Severomorsk, the chair of the Russian General Staff, Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov, announced on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial pullout of military forces from Syria after negotiating a ceasefire deal with Iran and Turkey. He said it offered an opportunity to end the six-year armed conflict in the Middle Eastern nation.
The Kuznetsov was deployed to Syria in mid-October 2016, accompanied by three other warships and several support ships.
Airstrikes from the Admiral Kuzetsov began in mid-November, the first time the carrier has been used in combat. It has lost two aircraft — an Su-33 fighter jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in December as it returned to the carrier following a sortie over Syria. In November, a MiG-29 crashed into the sea while trying to land on the carrier.