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Russia says it has replaced military personnel with civilian workers at naval base in Syria

Russia's Defense Ministry says it has withdrawn all military personnel from its naval base in Syria and replaced them with civilian workers.

The ministry said in Thursday's statement that Russia has made the switch at the base in the Syrian port of Tartus a while ago, but did not offer any details.

The base at Tartus — Russia's only naval outpost outside the former Soviet Union — is a minor facility consisting of several barracks and depots used mainly to service Russian navy ships in the Mediterranean. The ministry said that Tartus has continued to service the Russian navy ships. It wouldn't say how many civilian workers are now in Tartus.

Its statement followed Wednesday's reports on the pullout in the Al Hayat newspaper and Russia's business daily Vedomosti.