The Russian Aerospace Forces had deployed at least one Su-35S fighter jet in al-Qamishli Airport in northeastern Syria, North Press Agency journalist Hoşeng Hesen revealed on October 28.
Hesen shared a photo showing the Russian fighter jet parked inside the airport, which is located right along the border with Turkey.
For the first time, #Russian Sukhoi landed at #Qamishlo airport. Russian military police use the airport as a military base and it’s so close to the #US base in the same city.
The Pic sent by a special source inside the airport. pic.twitter.com/0CwIikLe1N
— Hoşeng Hesen هوشنك حسن (@HoshangHesen) October 27, 2021
The fighter jet appeared to be equipped for air combat with four R-77 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles, two R-73 short-range air-to-air missiles and the L175M Khibiny-M ECM [electronic countermeasures] system.
While al-Qamishli Airport is held by Syrian government forces, most of the nearby city is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Following the 2019 Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, Russia deployed several helicopters, radars and at least one air-defense system in the airport. Russian forces were dispatched to the region back then to monitor a ceasefire between Turkish forces and the SDF.
The airport is considered fairly safe. The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies are present in the town of Ras al-Ain and its surroundings, some 100 kilometers to the west of al-Qamishli. US forces also operate away from the airport.
Over the past two years, several news sources claimed that Russia is planning to establish a base in al-Qamishli Airport similar to that in Hmeimim on the Syrian coast.
The deployment of the Su-35S fighter jet in al-Qamishli may be a Russian message to Turkey, which is reportedly preparing to launch a new operation against the SDF. Kobane, which is located in northeastern Syria, is allegedly one of the main targets of the upcoming operation.