MOSCOW, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Russian State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, approved Friday a bill ratifying an agreement with Syria on the open-ended deployment of a Russian Air Force unit there.
The agreement was signed on Aug. 26, 2015 in Damascus, and was submitted to the State Duma for ratification in early August, 2016.
Under the agreement, Syria granted the Russian Air Force unit the right to use the Hmeimim air base in Latakia province with all its infrastructure.
Syria agreed to allow entry of weapons, ammunition, equipment and materials necessary for the implementation of the tasks of the Russian unit free of any duties and taxes, according to the agreement.
It also allowed the personnel of the Russian unit to freely cross the Syrian border without inspection by border and customs authorities.
To become effective, the agreement requires ratification, as it involves "issues of Russia's defense capability, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security," an explanatory note annexed to the agreement said.
The Russian Air Force has been deployed in Syria for anti-terror missions at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.