Kerry said he would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to "try to take advantage of this moment," which he described as the best opportunity in years to end the bloodshed.

Russia's withdrawal has spurred hopes for peace talks being held in Geneva to try to end Syria's brutal five-year conflict, which has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions.

Putin ordered the 'main part' of Russia's forces out of Syria on Monday, but pledged to keep some air and naval bases in the war-torn nation.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura described the withdrawal as a "significant development" for the talks, after the regime and rebel delegations submitted their roadmaps for a political solution.

"We hope (this) will have a positive impact on the progress of the negotiations," he said.

Kerry is expected to go to Moscow some time after yesterday when he returns from a trip to Cuba.

The first of Russia's warplanes to leave Syria received a hero's welcome at an airbase outside the city of Voronezh, where they were greeted by a ceremonial flypast and dozens of cheering supporters.

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