Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Russia Expands Air Presence in Northeast Syria

By: John Dunford

Key Takeaway: The U.S., Russia, and Turkey continue their competition for influence in Northeast Syria. Russia expanded its rotary-wing basing in Northern Syria under the terms of a deal it brokered with Turkey regarding the Syrian-Turkish Border on October 22. Russia established a permanent rotary-wing headquarters and support structure at Qamishli Airport on November 14 and its attack helicopters began overflying its joint patrols with Turkey in Northern Syria. Russia also likely intends to deploy new air defense systems to Qamishli, allowing it to constrain further the freedom of movement of the U.S. in Eastern Syria. Meanwhile, the U.S. expanded its ground patrol routes to villages west of Qamishli. The U.S. will thus likely come into closer contact with the growing number of pro-regime forces - including Russians - based in and around Qamishli.