The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Russian intervention in Syria 101 months on | Renewed airstrikes in “de-escalation zone” leave civilian fatalities…new posts established near border with occupied Syrian Golan…60 airstrikes target ISIS hideouts in Syrian desert

At a time when Russia’s plans are proceeding with their 101st consecutive month of involvement in the Syrian crisis, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored and tracked the recent developments during the third month of the ninth year of the Russian intervention in Syria. Key developments can be summarized regionally as follows:



North-west Syria


In the past month, Russian fighter jets resumed their airstrikes on the “de-escalation zone,” where airstrikes hit the vicinity and outskirts of Idlib city on February 29, killing a civilian and injuring four others.


On the same day, February 29, Russian fighter jets executed airstrikes on Qabasin frontline and Jabal Al-Dayr in “Euphrates Shield” area in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, killing a member of the Turkish-backed “Ahrar Al-Sham” and injuring five other members.



North-east Syria


Russian forces did not carry out any joint patrols with their Turkish counterparts in north-east Syria in February, where joint patrols in this area have been suspended since late September 2023.



Miscellaneous events


As a part of exploiting the residents’ dire living conditions and efforts to woo Syrian people, the Russian reconciliation centre distributed baskets to residents in Homs, Daraa and Deir Ezzor. Those baskets contained food, aid supplies, cloths and stationeries. The Russian reconciliation centre also distributed pre-paid medical check-up forms to residents on different occasions.



On the other hand, Russian forces continue conducting military drills for members of the 25th Division (Special Forces) led by Brigadier-General Suhail Al-Hassan with the aim of sending them to Ukraine to engage in the war alongside Russian forces. Russian forces supervise those military drills, which include parachuting, and take the trained troops to Hmeimim military airbase to be transported to Ukraine, after recruiting them in return for high monthly salaries.


In February, SOHR documented seven rounds of military drills by the 25th Division, supervised by Russian forces, all of which were conducted in east Aleppo countryside.


Separately, Russian forces installed a new observation point, on February 19, on the border with the occupied Syrian Golan, in the western plains area of Bir Al-Ajam town in the western countryside of Al-Qunaitrah, in light of reducing the intensity of tensions in the region, between the groups working with the Lebanese Hezbollah and Israel. Accordingly, the number of Russian checkpoints established near the area of the occupied Syrian Al-Golan has risen to ten.


While on February 23, the Russian Military Police conducted a patrol in Al-Qonaitara countryside near the occupied Syrian Al-Golan. The patrol comprises three military vehicles and roamed in the region, coinciding with the flight of Russian warplanes at low altitude over the region to protect the patrol. The patrol set off from checkpoints of Russian forces in Al-Ma’alaka Town and roamed villages and towns of Al-Ma’alaka, Al-Taloul Al-Homr, Al-Rafeed and Al-Asbah, before the patrol returned to the checkpoints in Al-Ma’alaka.



Syrian desert


Also in February, Russian fighter jets escalated their attacks in different areas in the Syrian desert, executing over 60 airstrikes on ISIS positions in Hama, Homs, Deir Ezzor and Al-Raqqah, causing material losses, amid reports on the death of several ISIS members.



Between the 30th of September 2015 and the 29th of February 2024, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of 21,203 persons. The breakdown of fatalities is as follows:


  • 8,729 civilians: 2,121 children under the age of eighteen, 1,327 females over the age of eighteen, 5,281 men and young people


  • 6,214 ISIS members


  • 6,260 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.