Syrian and Russian air forces conduct joint drill near Golan Heights

Two Russian SU-35 fighter jets and six Syrian MiG-23 and MiG-29 aircraft simulated facing 'hostile' warplanes and drones

A Tupolev TU-22M3 Backfire strategic bomber, left, and an SU-35 multirole supermanoeuvrable fighter during exercises by Russia forces in February, 2022. AFP
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Syria’s Defence Ministry on Tuesday released footage of its air force conducting a joint drill with Russia, the first since that country’s invasion of Ukraine began more than three months ago.

The ministry said two Russian SU-35 fighter jets and six Syrian MiG-23 and MiG-29 aircraft simulated facing “hostile” warplanes and drones. Syrian pilots dealt with them with cover and support from the Russian warplanes, it said.

“All elusive targets were monitored and completely destroyed while aerial targets were hit at night for the first time,” according to a Syrian Defence Ministry statement.

It also released a video of the warplanes that it said took part in the drill.

The announcement came hours after Syrian state television reported that Israeli missiles targeted Syrian army positions south of the capital, Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties.

State TV quoted an unnamed military official who said that Israeli warplanes fired several missiles while flying over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before midnight on Monday. It said that Syrian air defences shot down most of the missiles.

There was no comment from Israel about the strike.

Smoke billows following an Israeli airstrike targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020. Israeli strikes south of the Syrian capital wounded seven Syrian soldiers, state media reported, in an attack which a war monitor said hit several positions of regime forces and Iran-backed militias. / AFP / STR

According to Syrian state media, Israeli missiles struck central Syria on May 13, killing five people, including a civilian, and igniting fires on farmland in the area.

Russia became involved militarily in Syria in September 2015, helping to tip the balance of power in favour of President Bashar Assad’s forces in the now 11-year conflict in which half a million people have been killed.

In Tuesday’s exercise, the Russian and Syrian warplanes carried out joint patrols along the Golan Heights and other parts of southern Syria.

The last such joint drill was conducted a week before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In mid-February, the Russian military sent long-range nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets carrying state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to Syria for naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 1:37 PM