President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Russian forces in Syria to start partially withdrawing, saying Moscow would keep the Hmeimim air base in Syria's Latakia Province as well as a naval facility at the port of Tartous.
Putin made the announcement during a surprise visit to the air base where he held talks with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and addressed Russian military servicemen.
Putin on Monday gave the order for Russian forces to start withdrawing to their permanent bases in Russia, the Kremlin said on its website.
He said that after a two year military campaign, Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying ISIS.
"The task of fighting armed bandits here in Syria, a task that it was essential to solve with the help of extensive use of armed force, has for the most part, been solved and solved spectacularly," Putin said, in remarks broadcast on Russian television.
"I congratulate you!," Putin told Russian servicemen gathered at the base.
He added in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that "if the terrorists again raise their heads, we will deal such blows to them they have never seen."
Russia first launched air strikes in Syria in September 2015 in its biggest Middle East intervention in decades.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that ISIS militants have been driven out of Syria's Idlib province, two days after making an incursion into the region bordering Turkey.
The group captured the Idlib village of Bashkun at the weekend after clashes with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
"After fierce fighting, Tahrir al-Sham has once again chased ISIS out of Idlib," said the Britain-based monitor.