These photos suggest Russian Air Force jets and drones are already operating against ISIS in Syria

Photos allegedly taken over Idlib seem to prove Russian Migs, Sukhois and drones are currently operating against ISIS in Syria

Pictures allegedly shot over Idlib and posted on Twitter seem to suggest Sukhoi Su-27 (or derivative) Flanker, Mig-29 Fulcrum, Su-34 Fullback jets and Pchela-1T drone are operating in Syria.

Provided the pictures are genuine and taken in Syria in the last couple of days, they would really prove a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in the country and started flying from an Assad-controlled airbase near Damascus as reported by some Israeli media outlets.

During the past days, has exposed several flights of a Russian Air Force (even though the registration shown by FR24 is Syrian – there has been a bit of confusion around this plane since if was first logged in Sept. 2014) Il-76 airlifter (caught by means of its Mode-S transponder) flying to and from Damascus using radio callsign “Manny 6”, most probably supporting the deployment of a Russian expeditionary force.

Manny6 210815

Recent reports claimed Russia was in talks to sell Damascus some MiG-29s but the rumors were refuted by MiG CEO Sergei Korotkov.

If the pictures are real, the current makeup of the Russian detachment would include attack planes (Su-34), as well as some air-superiority ones (MiG-29 and Su-27) and UAVs (Pchela 1T – a drone with a of range 60 km).

Whether the Russian Air Force operations against ISIS in Syria are coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition that daily conducts air strikes in the country is unclear. Let’s hope they talk each other, otherwise one of the next days the Su-27s may make a close encounter with a stealthy US F-22 providing kinetic situational awareness to other coalition combat planes.

In the meanwhile the Kremlin denies the participation of Russia in the anti-ISIS airstrikes….

We will update you as soon as more details confirming or refuting the deployment emerge.

Image credit: and @green_lemonnn



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. Is that it? The photos show nothing to indicate that they were taken in Syria. They could have been taken anywhere.

  2. Russians, as their fighting doctrine seems to go (under cover and deniable operations, “Maskirovka”), would rather field Su-24s and eventually MiG-29s as they are useful (what the hell are the Su-27s doing there?) and deniable (Syrian loyalists have them in the fleet).

    While if they were directly and wildly intervening, I guess they would field Su-24s, Su-25s and Su-34s and eventually a limited number of MiG-29 fighter-bombers. But that would need some public speech on TV.

    • Russians are definitely getting ready for a major campaign against ISIS on Syrian land. And they will hardly stop at that, but will then pursue the rascals in Iraq, Lybia and Afghanistan. The Siberian bear knows nothing about discriminate warfare. The utter destruction of ISIS can be the only end.

  3. Outstanding. Hopefully with the arrival of the Russians who have decided to reinforce the Syrians, Hezbollah, & the Iranians the situation on the ground will change. I would rather have Assad & his Baathists survive and continue to rule a pro-Iranian but secular rump state in western Syria than see all of the country fall to ISIS, the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra Front, or the so-called “moderates” of whom many are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. With Assad & his allies in western Syria, the Kurds in the north, and the Shia of Iraq in the east these Sunni Islamists may be contained.

    • I see a false dichotomy here. There’s no choice between ISIL and Assad here. Neither should survive, neither will. I can’t stand seeing either one in power.

Comments are closed.