Several Su-34s were tasked with bomber mission. Archive photo. (Image © Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

Official: Russia joins Syria in battling ISIS

Russia is now officially at war with the so-called Islamic State forces in Syria, and will fight them from the air in what officially is called a joint operation together with the Syrian Air Force, after the government in Damascus “asked for military support”. The US says the first Russian air attack may have already taken place near the city of Homs.

The Council of the Federation (the Russian “Senate”) has agreed fully to Russian president Putin’s wish to use the already sent air expeditionary force in offensive operations, side by side with and in support of the Syrian government led by president Assad.

Since the end of last week Russia has about 20 Mil Mi-24 Hind attack and Mi-17 Hip assault/transport helicopters in Syria. At least a dozen Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” ground attack aircraft, 12 Su-24 “Fencer” bombers and four Su-30 Flanker multi-role fighters are in the country, operating from an airbase close to Latakia on the coast. Advanced Sukhoi Su-34 Fullbacks are reportedly now also in Syria.

Some sources say that Russia has even dispatched six Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 “Foxhound” interceptor aircraft, which could be interpreted as a signal to be left alone to the US-led coalition bombing IS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Since IS doesn’t have an air force, having the interceptors there is only a form of either self-defence or sign that Russia means business and does not accept the US and allies to interfere.

Finally, there are signs that Russian markings were removed from aircraft currently in Latakia. Syrian pilots do have experience in flying the Sukhoi Su-24 and other Russian aircraft types.

© 2015 editors Marcel Burger & Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Sources point to Su-34 Fullbacks now also being in Syria.  (Image © Vitaly V. Kuzmin)