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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

(reuters_tickers)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday the formation of a zone controlled by U.S.-backed rebels could lead to the partition of Syria.

Russia started to withdraw its forces from Syria last month, but Moscow has said it would keep its Hmeymim air base in Syria's Latakia Province as well as its naval facility at Tartous "on a permanent basis".

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Larry King)

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Reuters