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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Idlib - Firas Karam

Russian Warplanes Fly over Idlib on Syrian Revolution’s Anniversary

Demonstrations in Idlib marking the eleventh anniversary of the start of the protests in Syria (Reuters)

For the second day in a row, Russian warplanes cruised the skies of de-escalation zones in northern Syria. They flew over areas run by Syrian factions loyal to Turkey in northern Aleppo, stirring civilian fears of Russian raids returning as cities in northwestern Syria celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Syrian revolution.

“Over the course of 48 hours, about 40 sorties were carried out by Russian fighters over Idlib governorate and the countryside of Hama, Latakia and Aleppo, which are under the control of Turkey-backed Syrian opposition factions in northwestern Syria,” Idlib-based activists reported.

According to activists, about eight Russian reconnaissance planes flew over the airspace of Jabal Al-Zawiya in southern Idlib and the Al-Ghab Plain, west of Hama and the western countryside of Aleppo.

The fly over of Russian warplanes raised civilian fears of a return to the Russian escalation and casualties.

Col. Mustafa Bakour, a defected officer from the regime forces, said that there are several explanations for the Russian air activity in the airspace of opposition-controlled areas.

Firstly, the Russians could be training new pilots after most of those trained at Syria’s Hmeimim airbase were transferred to Ukraine.

Secondly, Russia could be sending the West a message that it is prepared to step up its operations in Syria if Western countries continue to support Ukraine.

Thirdly, the flyovers could be a warning to Turkey which had supplied Ukraine with Bayraktar TB2 warplanes.

Finally, the Russians might be sending a message to the Syrian opposition that the revolution has been defeated and that President Bashar al-Assad is the ruler of the country with Moscow’s backing.

The colonel did not rule out Russian warplanes staging raids to back these messages and turn them into a serious threat.

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