Iranian fighter jet seemingly flying over Homs: is Tehran actively taking part to the air war in Syria?

Although the majority of footage, photo appearing on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and so on, some of the images coming from Syria proved to be fake, as those allegedly showing a Syrian Arab Air Force plane hit by surface to air missiles or the L-39 crashing into the ground after being hit by Free Syrian Army’s anti-aircraft fire.

That said, take the following with grain of salt.

Brought to my attention by Bjørn Holst Jespersen the following image was uploaded on the Syrian Revolution Memory Project Flickr photostream. The photograph, whose EXIF can be found here, is the last of a set reportedly describing a day spent by Abu Jafaar “the citizen journalist” with the Al-Farouk Brigade of the FSA.

It was taken on Aug. 31 (at least, according to the EXIF), even if the caption says it was shot on Aug. 6 (noteworthy, all pictures in the set have the same caption: “Homs, Syria August 6, 2012”).

Anyway, the photograph clearly shows an F-5 Tiger fighter jet. Among the various operators of this kind of aircraft, Iran and Turkey are the closer ones.

Provided that the image was really taken in Syria, over Homs or elsewhere in the country, and considered that Tehran has recently admitted it is helping Assad against the rebels (recent imagery even disclosed the presence of Iran Air and Mahan Air planes at Damascus airport) there are some chances that the plane depicted in the photograph is really an Iranian F-5.

Maybe it’s a bit far fetched but this photo could prove Iran is a bit more actively than thought taking part to the air war over Syria. Even if it could be risky and surely destined to be unveiled quite soon by drones and intelligence gathering platforms spying on Assadists movements.

Less likely, the image could have been taken near the border with Turkey, thus showing a TuAF NF-5…

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. i read some where that turkey sent their fighter jets to the Syrian border coz some of the Syrian helicopters violated the borders
    so this might be one of those fighters

    • did you forget the syrian air defence hunted down a turkish rf-4e over the sea? do you seriously think a mediocre trainer like f-5 can survive to reach homs? probably an asset from iran, operated by syrian pilots.

    • From David Cameron’s address to the UN today,

      “The most worrying factor is the inevitable spillover to Iraq. There, the Shiite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has moved closer to the Shiite fundamentalist regime in Iran since the withdrawal of the US military at the end of 2011. Al-Maliki fears that Sunni fundamentalists in Syria might replace the Assad regime and then support Sunni insurgent elements in Iraq. Flights from Iran now freely cross Iraqi air space, ferrying weapons and troops to support the Syrian dictatorship.”

  2. and here is a fine question:
    Why F-5? IRICGAF has a hand full of Su-25Ks, why using F-5 belonging to IRIAF instead of using frogfots?

    • syrian government never gonna risk such “valuable assets” for random close air support missions. possibility of military intervention is a good reason to secure “them” on fortified hangars for now.

  3. Mo has a point and also it would be unlikely that an old F5 could have a big impact on operations. And the risk for iran, in case it was shot down, would be too great because the world would have evidence of its involvment. Not something iran would like to happen.

    • Maybe, but Iran has been pretty open about its involvement, and on this seems to have the backing of Russia and China.

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