Assad Moves The Bulk Of His Air Power To Russia’s Air Base In Syria

Multiple reports state that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad has ordered his best combat aircraft to relocate to Russia’s Hmeymin air base located south of Latakia, Syria. If these reports prove to be accurate, the move puts Syrian air power under the protection of Russia’s advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile batteries, Pantsir-S1 point air defense systems, and Su-30/34/35 Flankers fighters. It also makes attacking Assad’s air power a geopolitical non-starter going forward—unless the US is willing to kill Russians and attack what is basically Moscow’s own micro-territory within the war-torn country. 

The move was entirely predictable, and just another major negative repercussion of the Trump administration’s reckless sham of a missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base on April 7th. I will save you the diatribe here, you can read exactly what I wrote as to why we shouldn’t strike Assad before the cruise missiles were fired, and why it was a hollow and sickeningly counter-productive decision to do so after. Sadly, my predicted repercussions of executing such a strike have rang true, and then some.

S-400 TELs at Russia’s air base in Syria. Kasta 2E1 2D search radar and “Thin Skin” height finding radar. , AP

Following the Tomahawk missile attack, not only did Moscow say they would protect Assad’s airspace and military capabilities with their own air defense batteries, but that they would also upgrade the dictator’s own air defenses. By moving Assad’s air operations alongside Moscow’s at the ever-expanding Hmeymin air base, there will likely be deeper cooperation among the two air arms, and don’t be surprised if Russia also begins to re-quip Assad’s air force with surplus aircraft in the near term. 

In the meantime, Syrian and Russian aircraft seem to have accelerated the practice of dropping phosphorus and other area munitions on opposition filled towns.

All this is just another reminder that the jackpot winner of America’s token missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base was Bashar al Assad. 

Su-24s and Su-25s, along with an endless string on dumb bombs, are constant features at Russia’s air base in Syria., AP

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Tyler Rogoway


Tyler’s passion is the study of military technology, strategy, and foreign policy and he has fostered a dominant voice on those topics in the defense media space. He was the creator of the hugely popular defense site Foxtrot Alpha before developing The War Zone.