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  1. ITV Report

Russia begins to withdraw military forces from Syria

The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier will be the first to leave the conflict area. Credit: AP

Russia has begun to withdraw its military forces from Syria, according to the head of the Russian General Staff.

Valery Gerasimov said: "The Russian Defence Ministry is beginning to reduce its armed forces deployment in Syria."

Mr Gerasimov said Russia's naval fleet will be the first to return from Syria.

The fleet is led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which has been operating in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast since October.

In December, Vladimir Putin said Russia had agreed to reduce its military deployment in the war-torn country under the terms of an ceasefire deal between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government.

Last year the flagship aircraft carrier sailed through the English Channel on its mission to Syria at a time of heightened tensions between the UK and Russia over the civil war.