US officials say Russian fighter jets seen in Syria airfield

The former Cold War foes have a common adversary in Islamic State militants in Syria, even as Washington opposes Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

By REUTERS
September 18, 2015 22:13
2 minute read.
A spectator watches Sukhoi Su-30SM jet fighters of the Falcons of Russia acrobatic team

A spectator watches Sukhoi Su-30SM jet fighters of the Sokoly Rossii (Falcons of Russia) aerobatic team perform during the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Russia has sent fighter jets to Syria, US officials said, raising the stakes in a military buildup that has put Washington on edge and led Friday to the first talks between US and Russian defense chiefs in over a year.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, eyeing the possibility of rival US and Russian air operations in Syria's limited airspace, agreed in a call with his Russian counterpart to explore ways to avoid accidental military interactions.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The coordination necessary to avoid such encounters is known in military parlance as "deconfliction."

"They agreed to further discuss mechanisms for deconfliction in Syria and the counter-ISIL campaign," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said after the call, referring to the campaign by the US and its allies against Islamic State militants.

The former Cold War foes have a common adversary in Islamic State militants in Syria, even as Washington opposes Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, seeing him as a driver in the nation's devastating, four-and-a-half-year civil war.

A senior US defense official, recounting details of the conversation, said Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had described Moscow's activities in Syria as defensive in nature.

Shoigu said Russia's military moves "were designed to honor commitments made to the Syrian government," the US official said.



It was unclear, however, what those commitments to Syria are or how Russia's military buildup was relevant to them.

Russia's latest deployment has added significant airpower to a buildup that, according to US estimates, also includes helicopter gunships, artillery and as many 500 Russian naval infantry forces at an airfield near Latakia.

One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said four tactical Russian fighter jets were sent to Syria. Another US official declined to offer a number but confirmed the presence of multiple jets.

In London, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was looking to find "common ground" with Russia.

Kerry said it was important to forge a political agreement in Syria and end the hardship of Syrian people.

"Everybody is seized by the urgency. We have been all along but the migration levels and continued destruction, the danger of potential augmentation by any unilateral moves puts a high premium on diplomacy at this moment," he said.

Carter told Shoigu that future consultations would run in parallel "with diplomatic talks that would ensure a political transition in Syria," Cook said.

"He noted that defeating (Islamic State militants) and ensuring a political transition are objectives that need to be pursued at the same time," he said.

The last time a US defense chief spoke with Shoigu was in August 2014, the Pentagon said, saying high-level communications were halted following Russia's annexation of Crimea and its intervention in Ukraine.

Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of driving a pro-Russian separatist rebellion in east Ukraine, which started shortly after the Crimea annexation. Russia denies this.

Related Content

August 21, 2018
Iran unveils fourth-generation fighter jet

By ANNA AHRONHEIM