The report indicated that the drone surveillance is the first military air operations of the Russian government in Syria as it continues to build up its forces at one of the country’s airbase.
The U.S. officials were not able to provide the exact number of Russian drones conducting surveillance operations or the scope of its flights in Syria. The official requested not to disclose their identity.
Russia boosts capability to carry out bombing missions in Syria
A related report from Fox News indicated that Russia also sent additional fighter jets to Syria including Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” and Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer.” The Su-24 jets are advanced supersonic attack aircrafts.
According to a U.S. official those fighter jets were in addition to the four Su-27s, which are already seen operating in the country. He said, “This is a significant upgrade to Russia’s ability to carry out bombing missions inside Syria.”
Aside from the surveillance drones and fighter jets, Russia also sent more advanced tanks during the weekend in Syria. There are currently nine T-90 Russian tanks on the ground.
Russia converted Bassel al-Assad airbase, the second largest airport in Syria as its forward-operating base. The latest satellite images showed that there are SA-22 surface-to-air missiles in the base, which is located in the port city of Latakia, one of the last remaining strongholds of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Russia, US defense chiefs agreed to avoid accidental interactions
The defense chiefs of the Russia and the United States agreed to find ways to prevent accidental interactions in Syria. Both countries have the same objective—to eradicate the Islamic State (ISIL) militants in the country although the U.S. rejects Moscow’s support for Syrian Pres. al-Assad. The United States blames al-Assad as evil and the reason for the civil war in the country for more than four years now.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called his Russian counterpart to discuss their actions in Syria on Friday. It was the first time for both defense chiefs to speak to each other for more than a year.
Washington also asked Moscow about its intentions in Syria. Some political observers suggested that Russia may also want to target the opposition fighters in Syria, which are supported by the United States. The Russian government perceives the opposition fighters as a threat to al-Assad.
Putin, Natanyahu agree to coordinate military operations in Syria
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to coordinate their military operations in Syria.
Putin and Netanyahu discussed the fight against global terrorism and the peace process in the Middle East during a meeting in Moscow on Monday.
In a press conference, Netanyahu said his objective was to “prevent misunderstandings between IDF troops and Russian troops” by creating ways to coordinate with each other.