Russia has stepped up military presence in Syria. Moscow is actively training Syrian government forces and supplying military assistance to President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime to help them fight rebels, a move that has alarmed the United States. Sources told Reuters that Syrian government forces were using “newly arrived” Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships, ground forces, and artillery.
The air strikes were accompanied by ground attacks. Russia’s deployment of ground and air forces in Syria has more to do with protecting the Assad regime than fighting the Islamic State. But Russian troops will have to fight against the ISIS militants directly given the level of threat they pose to Assad. Robert Farley of the National Interest lists five Russian weapons that the Islamic State should fear.
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Russia has deployed Spetsnaz special forces in Syria
The first on the list is Sukhoi-25 Frogfoot. The attack aircraft has already served against the Islamic State as part of the Iranian and Iraqi air forces. The Su-25 carries a large load of missiles and bombs, along with a 30mm cannon for close air support duties. The Frogfoot in the Russian Air Force is likely more advanced than those used by Iraqi forces, making it more lethal against the ISIS.
Next are the Russian special forces Spetsnaz that have demonstrated their capabilities in covert operations and anti-insurgency efforts. They were even believed to be involved in the seizure of Crimea last year. Recent reports suggest that Russia has deployed Spetsnaz special forces in Syria. They can not only train Syrian troops, but also lead ground offensives against the Islamic State.
The third Russian weapon that Robert Farley believes ISIS should fear is the Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters. The Assad regime forces are already using Mi-24 Hind in combat operations. The choppers would give Russian and Syrian forces ground support capabilities.
Russia may be using armored vehicles and drones in Syria
The fourth Russian weapon is the BTR-82A armored personnel carrier. This conventional armored vehicle offers protection and mobility of ground troops along with fire support for infantry. Recent photographs indicate that Russian and Syrian forces might be using the BTR-82A. The deployment of this vehicle clearly signals that Russia is committed to ground combat to save the Assad regime.
The fifth Russian weapon that ISIS should fear is UAVs. At this point, it is unclear what type of and how many drones Russia has deployed in Syria. But photos suggest the presence of short-range surveillance drone Yakolev Pchela 1T. The Assad regime lacks intelligence about the Islamic State, and that’s where Russian drones could help. If Russia chooses to deploy more advanced combat drones, it will significantly boost the effectiveness of Russian-Syrian forces.
— Green lemon (@green_lemonnn) September 2, 2015