Friday, October 2, 2015

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30 - October 1

By Genevieve Casagrande

Key Takeaway: Russia conducted a second round of airstrikes in Syria on October 1, targeting rebel-held positions in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, and Aleppo. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has repeatedly claimed that the airstrikes are targeting ISIS positions in these rebel-held areas. However, Russian targets included the training camp of an FSA-affiliated, Western-backed TOW anti-tank missile recipient Liwa Suqour al-Jebel near the town of Maaret al-Nouman in Idlib Province, in addition to other rebel-held targets. The Russian MoD also claimed two airstrikes in Raqqah Province, targeting an ISIS-held training camp and “command post”. These airstrikes are the first Russian strikes confirmed by the Russian MoD that have targeted positions in ISIS-held terrain.

The following graphic depicts ISW’s assessment of Russian airstrike locations based on reports from local Syrian activist networks, Syrian state-run media, and statements by Russian and Western officials.

High-Confidence reporting. ISW places high confidence in reports corroborated both by official government statements reported through credible channels and documentation from rebel factions or activist networks on the ground in Syria deemed to be credible.

Anonymous U.S. officials reported by secondary sources stated that Russian aircraft conducted strikes in Talbisah in northern Homs Province and the Ghab Plain in Idlib Province. The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that airstrikes struck targets in Al Latamneh, Jisr al-Shughour, Ar Raqqa, Darat Izza, and Ma’arat al-Numan. All of these airstrikes have been corroborated through local reporting. ISW assesses with high confidence Russian aircraft conducted strikes in the following: Talbisah, Al Latamneh, Khirbet Has, the Ghab Plain, Jisr al-Shughour, Darat Izza, and two locations in Raqqa.

Low-Confidence reporting. ISW places low confidence in secondary sources that have not been confirmed or sources deemed likely to contain disinformation.

Local sources have attributed Russian airstrikes to multiple locations in northwestern Syria, including Ghanto, Rastan, and al-Zafarnah in northern Homs Province; Kafr Zita in northern Hama Province; and several locations in the northeastern countryside of Latakia Province. Syrian state-run media also stated that Russian airstrikes occurred in the eastern countryside of Salamiyah in Hama Province. ISW assess with low confidence Russian aircraft conducted strikes in the following: Ghanto, Rastan, Al Zafarnah, the Salamiyah countryside, and the Latakia countryside.