The first group of Russian fighter jets left Syria on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said, a day after President Vladimir V. Putin ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of his country’s forces.
The jets flew home after the Russian Air Force contingent began loading equipment and making other technical preparations necessary to start the withdrawal, the ministry said in a statement.
The technical staff at the Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria, “began to prepare the aircraft for the long-range flights to the Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a statement on its website and on Facebook.
The statement did not specify the number of aircraft. Russia deployed about 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters to the base starting in September.
The process apparently started soon after Mr. Putin’s announcement, and Russian television broadcast pictures of soldiers loading heavy equipment onto giant cargo planes in the dark. The Defense Ministry later released a video of Russian fighter jets flying home, and Su-34 warplanes landed soon after.