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. This is a bad thing, how?

    We tried to train/arm these mythical anti-ISIS/anti-Assad freedom fighters. Got a grand total of 50 or so, who ran away at first opportunity.

    Let Russia stabilize Syria and fight ISIS. Assad is small potatoes in comparison. Not that long ago, he was our best bud and just a wonderful human being.

  2. Nice! Hopefully something happens and we get to see the F22 vs a worthy opponent. Even if they end up shooting each other, I doubt it would lead to nuclear war, so its a Win-Win !

  3. the armed forces of the russian federation probably could use some combat experience since you know they’re totally not involved in combat operations elsewhere in the world (ukraine cough cough).

  4. You are saing such things as if one of the parties, that is “waging the war against ISIS” is not the one, that has created that organisation, helped with training and equpment and is trying now to guide them like some crazy roaches to only attack Assad forces and not spread to the surronding countries.

    You have Turkey only bombing mostly the Kurds. USAF mostly bombing he Assad forces and ISIS that go stray from their primary objective. Then you have Fronds of Syrian People who deal with the terrorists buying oil and selling guns.

    From far enough this looks like a child with a stick, trying to force one colony of ants to attack another colony.

    And the USA is the cruel child.

  5. Versus supporting Saudi Arabia where immigrants are treated as slaves, raped and executed at will, and women have no rights?

    I’ll take Assad thanks.

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