Russia is to start withdrawing its peacekeepers from Sierra Leone on Friday five years after it joined the UN mission in that west African country.
"The withdrawal of the air force detachment from Sierra Leone will begin on Sept. 16-17 and end on Sept. 24-25," Russian Air Force Commander Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov said Thursday.
Russia made the decision in light of resolution 1610 adopted by the UN Security Council on June 13, 2005 to end its peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, which was devastated during the 1991-2002 war.
Mikhailov said, "Five Il-76 cargo planes and one An-124 Ruslan jumbo jet will be used in the withdrawal. They will carry four Mi-24 helicopters, about 180 servicemen, special equipment and over 150 tons of property."
The Russian servicemen, cargo and military hardware will be taken to Torzhok in the Tver region, where the 344th aviation center is located, according to the military.
More than 100 Russian troops and four Mi-24P helicopters have served in Sierra Leone on the UN peace mission since August 2000. They have been rotated every seven or eight months.
After the pullout, 90 Russian military observers will remain to continue their work under the UN mandate, the military said.