Russia’s Presence in Syria

Russia’s forces in Syria are “almost identical” to what was there before the country’s president announced plans to pull out aircraft and ground troops earlier this year. Russia continues to have airpower, ground forces, and artillery in Syria, the US-led coalition targeting ISIS said. “Overall, their capability is largely unchanged,” coalition spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday. Recently, Russia set up a forward operating base near the Syrian village of Palmyra, to “give them a foothold for a more enduring presence. … [It’s] too early to tell whether or not they intend it to be a long-term or a short-term venture,” Warren said. The continuing Russian presence, however, seems to be less about supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, and instead the majority of Russian attacks have been “ISIL focused,” Warren said. (See also: Russian Roulette from the December 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)