BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:45 P.M.) – The Russian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets have returned to Syria after a year-long hiatus, new satellite images revealed this week.
The Israel-based Image Sat International group released a new satellite photo of the Russian Hmeimim Airbase on Friday that showed the return of these fighter jets to Syria.
#ISI #intelligence report: https://t.co/e1R7MhgJEB – #Russia returned the SU-25 jets to #Syria, and signals to #Turkey that #Putin is "serious" in his intention to leave the entire territory of Syria under #Assad, even at the cost of a confrontation with the Turkish #Military. pic.twitter.com/T0i5YLxxWU
— ImageSat Intl. (@ImageSatIntl) March 15, 2019
This move by the Russian Air Force comes just days after they launched a heavy attack on Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s positions near the provincial capital of Idlib.
It is no secret that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is preparing to launch a large-scale military operation to expel the jihadist and Turkish-backed rebels from the demilitarized zone; however, the return of the Russian Su-25s to Syria also signals Moscow’s approval of such an operation.
While Russia is onboard for this Idlib operation, it does not appear that Turkey is fully in support of such an offensive.
Recently, the Turkish military has increased its presence around the demilitarized zone in a bid to deter the Syrian Arab Army from targeting the rebel forces nearby.
Turkey will likely remain the largest obstacle for this offensive because the Syrian Arab Army will not attack areas where the Turkish armed forces are present.