Russian intervention in Syria 93 months on | Dramatic escalation of aerial operations on “de-escalation zone” leaves nearly 65 casualties and Turkish attack leaves Russian soldier dead in northern Aleppo
At a time when Russia’s plans are proceeding with their 93rd consecutive month of involvement in the Syrian crisis, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored and tracked the recent developments during the sixth month of the eighth year of the Russian intervention in Syria. This month has experienced subsiding activity by Russian forces in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Key developments can be summarized regionally as follows:
Russian fighter jets dramatically escalated their airstrikes on “Putin-Erdogan” area with nearly 35 airstrikes documented by SOHR in the last ten days of June. The Russian airstrikes in June targeted positions in Al-Shahroura, Talet Al-Khudr and Kabana in Latakia countryside, Al-Ghassaniyah, Basbat, Kam’aya, Al-Nahr Al-Abyad, Bazabour, Jisr Al-Shughour, the surrounding areas of Idlib city, Sheikh Bahr, Jabal Al-Arba’in and Sarjeh in Idlib countryside.
Those airstrikes left 11 civilians and 12 jihadists dead, as well as the injury of 40 other persons.
Here are further details:
- June 20: Russian warplanes launched four air strikes targeting the vicinity of Idlib city in the northern side.
- June 20: Russian warplanes launched four air strikes on the outskirts of Al-Sheikh Baher village in the western countryside of Idlib.
- June 23: A Russian warplane shelled Al-Sharora area in Jabal Al-Turkman within HTS-held areas in northern Lattakia countryside in two airstrikes.
- June 23: A Russian warplane executed a double airstrike with two missiles on the vicinity of Al-Ghasaniya village in Jisr Al-Shughour western of Idlib.
- June 24: Russian fighter jets executed an airstrike on the frontlines of Telal Al-Khder in northern Latakia countryside and another one on Al-Ghasaniya village in Jisr Al-Shughour in western Idlib countryside.
- June 24: Two civilian brothers were killed and others were injured due to renewal of airstrikes by Russian warplanes on the vicinity of Basbat village western of Jisr Al-Shughour in Idlib countryside near administrative borders with Lattakia province.
- June 25: 13 people were killed in Russian airstrikes on the surrounding areas of Jisr Al-Sughour city and the surrounding areas of Idlib city. The fatalities are as follows: six civilians and three combatants in the surrounding areas of Jisr Al-Sughour city and a member of the “Turkistan Islamic Party,” a civilian and two children of the families of “Turkistan Islamic Party” members in the surrounding areas of Idlib city. Airstrikes on the surrounding areas of Jisr Al-Sughour city also left nearly 30 people injured.
- June 27: Eight members of “Liwaa Hamza” which operates under the banner of Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham were killed and others sustained various injuries in seven airstrikes by Russian fighter jets which targeted military headquarters of HTS in Jabal Al-Zawiyah area in south Idlib countryside.
In the past month, Russian and Turkish forces conducted three joint patrols, two of which were in Ain Al-Arab countryside (Kobani) in Aleppo province and one in Al-Darbasiyyah countryside in Al-Hasakah province. Here are further details:
- June 1: Russian and Turkish forces ran a Joint patrol comprising four military vehicles of each side, this morning, in the northern countryside of Al-Hasakah. The patrol, which was escorted by two Russian helicopters, sat off from the crossing of Sherik village in western Al-Derbasyah countryside and toured the villages of the western and southern of Al-Derbasyah countryside along the area to the western countryside of Amouda northern Al-Hasakah, passing by Dailk, Qunitrah, Salam Alyk, Qurmaneah, Tal Kadysh, Ghanamyeah, Karbatly, Jadidah, Tal Tyri, Tal Karamah, Khaski, Modaorah, Abo Jaradi and Khanyi, before returning back to the set off point. After the patrol had accomplished its mission, the Turkish vehicles returned to Turkish territory, while Russian vehicles returned to the Russian airbase in Al-Qamishli.
- June 5: Russian and Turkish forces ran a joint patrol in the western countryside of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani). The patrol, which comprised eight military vehicles and escorted by two Russian helicopters, set off from Ashemah village in western Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) countryside and toured the villages of Jarrqly Fuqani, Qarran, Dakmidash, Kharkhuri, Boban, Joul, Tel Shair, Sowsan, Qulah, Qawa Tahtani, Bayander, Jabnah, Mashkow and Jarqali Fuqani. After the patrol had accomplished its mission, Russian forces returned to their base in Sarin town in the south of Ain Al-Arab Kobani.
- June 19: Russian and Turkish forces ran a joint patrol in the western countryside of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani). The patrol, which comprised eight military vehicles and escorted by two Russian helicopters, set off from Ashemah village in western Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) countryside and toured the villages of Jarrqly Fuqani, Jabnah, Bayadeyah, and Roze Maghar which is the furthest village in western Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) opposite Jarabulus city on the eastern bank of Euphrates river. The patrol headed towards the east and toured the villages of Jabnah, Mashkow, Bandar, Qaraquy Tahtany, Qulah, Sowsan and reached a checkpoint belonging to Internal Security Forces “Asayish” near the radio station in the west of Kobani city.
On June 15, Turkish forces and Russian forces met at Sherek border crossing in the west of Al-Dirbasiyah in northern Al-Hasakah, where a patrol was planned to roam villages in western Al-Dirbasyah and Kassra in northern Al-Hasakah countryside. However, the two sides agreed to cancel the joint patrol due to the recent attacks by Turkish forces in northeast Syria, where the Turkish patrol returned to Turkey and Russian forces later headed to their base in Al-Hasakah.
While on June 26, SOHR sources reported that Russian forces conducted a military patrol of four military armoured vehicles, without the participation of the Turkish forces, in eastern countryside of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) in the eastern of Aleppo, where the patrol set off from Ghareeb village and toured villages of Karbanaf, Qusek, Alishar, Gom-Ali, Qurtak, Qowbaksatan, Tiery, Tlejab, Tel Hajeb, Qabageq Sagher, Tallek, Howlaqeyah, Khrabessan Tahtany, Geshan, and Qarah Mogh, before heading back to Russian base in Sarin town in southern Ain Al-Arab (Kobani). The patrol was supposed to be conducted by joint forces of Turkish and Russian forces, but the Turkish military vehicles did not come to the border gate, which is 20 kilometres to the eastern Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) near Gharieb village, due to “Eid Al-Adha” holiday.
Also, Russian forces conducted an inspection tour in Al-Hasakah countryside on June 11. According to SOHR sources, a Russian patrol escorted by an vehicle of the SDF coordination bureau inspected some regime outposts and military posts along the border line between Turkey and Syria in Al-Dirbasyah and Amudah countryside, within SDF-controlled areas in north Al-Hasakah countryside.
Similarly, on June 14, Russian forces conducted a military patrol comprising four military armoured vehicles, without the participation of the Turkish forces, in north Al-Hasakah countryside. The military patrol, set off from Al-Derbasiyah countryside and headed to Abo Raseen town in north Al-Hasakah countryside, amid flight of two Russian helicopters over the region.
Moreover, a top event was documented on June 12 when a Russian soldier was killed and four others were injured in an earlier Turkish bombardment with heavy artillery, targeting a Russian convoy on Mazarea Um Hosh-Harbel road in the northern countryside of Aleppo, amid a Russian helicopter flight over the area to transport the injured members and the killed one.
On June 14, a Turkish armed drone attacked a Russian base in Al-Wahshiya village in northern Aleppo countryside within areas of Kurdish and regime forces in northern Aleppo countryside. However, no casualties were reported.
As a part of exploiting the residents’ dire living conditions and efforts to woo Syrian people, the Russian reconciliation centre in Deir Ezzor city distributed 300 food baskets, on June 1, to residents of Mazloum village in the east of Deir Ezzor. The baskets contained sugar, rice, cooking oil, flour and packs of powder milk.
On June 11, the Russian Reconciliation Centre distributed rescue baskets on nearly 300 families from Mazloum town in northern of Deir Ezzor, in the presence of the mayor of the town in celebration of the Russian Army Holiday.
Also, on June 7, Russian forces distributed humanitarian aid of 235 food baskets to residents of Bayet Showher village in Drykesh in Tartus countryside. In addition, Russian forces provided two schools with two generators. This is the first humanitarian aid of its kind to be provided by Russian forces in Tartus province, with the aim of showing “Russia’s humanitarian aspects” and woo and attract people.
Separately, Russian forces brought in a column comprising seven military vehicles from Damascus. The column headed to Hawyjat Sakr in Deir Ezzor countryside. This coincided with Russian forces’ efforts to strengthen their presence in different areas in Syrian territory.
Between the 30th of September 2015 and the 30th of June 2023, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of 21,146 persons. The breakdown of fatalities is as follows:
- 8,708 civilians: 2,112 children under the age of eighteen, 1,321 females over the age of eighteen, 5,275 men and young people
- 6,201 ISIS members
- 6,237 fighters of rebel and Islamic Factions, Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, the Islamic Turkestani Party, and fighters of Arab and foreign nationalities.
SOHR sources have reported that Russia used “Thermite-type explosives” in their airstrikes, a substance composed of aluminium powder and iron oxide which causes burns as it continues to ignite for about 180 seconds; some bombs used by Russian jets on the Syrian territory were loaded with this substance.
It has been discovered that they are “RBK-500 ZAB 2.5 SM” cluster incendiary bombs each weighing about 500 kg (about 1100 pounds (ca. 499 kilograms)) and they were dropped by military aircraft. They carried anti-individuals and anti-vehicles small-sized bombs of the type (AO 2.5 RTM), loaded with 50 to 110 small-sized bombs stuffed with “Thermite”, which outpour out of it when they explode; the range of these anti-individuals and anti-vehicles bombs reaches 20 to 30 metres.
As the months pass, the Syrians suffer the scourge of the Russian intervention, which seems to resemble a kind of revenge and retaliation against Syrians for protesting against the regime that committed the worst violations against its own people. At a time when the map of alliances and power balances is changing, Russia has become the ultimate winner, succeeding in helping the Syrian regime regaining control over about two-thirds of the country after losing control of most of its territory. Moscow used the pretext of “the war on terror” to commit massacres against civilians, and sponsored and struck agreements that were soon after abandoned. Moscow and its war machine have spilled the blood of Syrians despite claiming to be a “political mediator” or “broker” that can deal with all parties to the conflict.
With all recent changes in the balance of powers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renews its appeals to the international community to put pressure on Russia to stop its aggression against the Syrians, and to find a political solution to end the Syrian crisis that completed its eleventh year.