A new broadcast from the Russian television network RT shows some of the military’s more than 50 jets and helicopters now operating in Syria.
The segment, which was posted to YouTube on Oct. 1, gives a glimpse into Russian military’s growing mission in Syria, including the airstrikes it’s launching from an air base in Latakia.The correspondent, Murad Gazdiev, got rare access onto the tarmac and an up-close look at various planes, including a pair of armed Sukhoi Su-25UB Frogfoot attack planes.
The presence of Su-25s in Syria — in addition to Su-34 Fullback advanced strike fighters — set off speculation among defense observers in the U.S. as to whether former were being used to launch strikes or act as forward air controllers.
Interesting to see two (armed) Su-25UB combat trainers at #Latakia. Fast FAC(A)? pic.twitter.com/4DEy0qra4L— CombatAir (@CombatAir) October 2, 2015
Gazdiev reported that security was heavy at the base, due to the presence of militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, just 40 kilometers away.
The Russians have launched more than 20 flights and hit a dozen targets, according to the report.
“Data from air force attacks was analyzed and verification from multiple sources clearly shows that the Russian airstrikes were conducted on objects of terrorist infrastructure belonging to ISIS,” Col. Igor Klimov, a spokesman for the Russian ministry of defense, was quoted as saying.
“Attacks on civilian infrastructure where civilians could be was not in the planning and was not hit,” he added, according to the report.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday contradicted Moscow’s claims that its first airstrikes in Syria hit ISIS targets and warned that the Russian military buildup risked “pouring gasoline on the fire” of a civil war.
Recently released commercial satellite imagery showed Su-30SM and Su-24 fighter jets (partially covered in nets), Il-76 transport aircraft, Mi-24 Hind helicopters (also partially covered), T-90 tanks and BTR-80 armored personnel carriers at Bassel al-Assad International Airport.
The imagery also showed Mi-17 Hip helicopters and probable Ka-27/28 Helix helicopters, in addition to a fuel storage facility, at the Istamo Weapon Storage Facility.
Check out the RT video below: