Russia’s Counterterrorism Operation in Syria Four Years On: Key Facts to Know

The Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, continues to this day. The Daesh* and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front), have been the most active extremist groups during the conflict.

Since September 2014, an international coalition led by the United States has been attacking Daesh positions in Syria. However, the operation is being conducted without the approval of the UN Security Council or Damascus.

By the fall of 2015, the situation in Syria was critical. As of September 30, 2015, only 8 percent of the country’s territory was under government control.

On September 30, 2015, then-Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov said that Syrian President Bashar Assad had asked Moscow for military assistance. Russian President Vladimir Putin requested the upper house’s consent to deploy a military contingent abroad, and lawmakers unanimously voted in favor — air support for the Syrian government was declared the purpose of the military operation.

That same day, an aircraft group was deployed to the Hmeimim air base near Latakia and, acting in accordance with Putin’s decision, launched high-precision strikes against Daesh ground targets in Syria. 

A battle group featuring over 50 planes and helicopters began to carry out combat missions. This group consisted of Su-24M and Su-34 fighter-bombers, Tu-22M3 bombers, Su-25SM strike aircraft, Su-30SM and Su-35S fighters, Mi-24, and Mi-8AMTSH helicopters. Russia also…

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