Leaving aside its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 1999, Russia has not participated in military operations outside its own territory at this scale, since the Afghanistan in 1989.
Russia’s military campaign, under the legal invitation of the Syrian government, was and is a game changer, preserving the Syrian state structure, while dealing a deadly blow to western/Wahhabi supported ISIS and Al Qaeda.
The Syrian conflict is reaching a crescendo, as the US war hawks are in panic mode seeing their Al Qaeda/ISIS proxy army face certain defeat in Aleppo from Russian airstrikes and Syrian ground forces.
Here are some quick facts and figures about the Russian airforce operations in Syria, one year on (courtesy of TASS News Agency)…
On September 30, 2015 Russia’s Federation Council (the upper house of the two-chamber parliament) voted in support of President Vladimir Putin’s request for permission to use the national armed forces in Syria against the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist groups outlawed in Russia).
- The Russian Aerospace group dealt the first strikes against the militants’ positions later in the day.
- Initially, the group consisted of 50 combat planes and helicopters. In November 2015 Russia’s long-range bombers started flowing sorties to Syria.
- With time Russia’s Navy was involved in the operation as well. Combat ships in the land-locked Caspian Sea and in the Mediterranean Sea launched cruise missiles.
- On March 15, the main contingent of the Russian Aerospace group began to be pulled out of Syria on President Putin’s orders, while the Russian support facilities in Tartus and at the air base Hmeymim have maintained routine operation ever since. The remaining Russian planes continued to provide combat support for Syrian troops.
- According to May 2016 statistics more than 10,000 sorties had been carried out and 30,000 targets, including 200 oil extraction and refining facilities, were wiped out.
- The Pentagon estimates that by that time the Islamic State militants lost 45% of the territory they had controlled in Iraq and 20% of the territory in Syria. The Syrian army regained Palmyra to turn the tide of the campaign. The Russian military participated in the operation.
- Russia has airlifted to Syria 1,000 tonnes of foods, medical supplies and essentials.