Syrian, Russian Air Forces Conduct First Joint Military Drill Since Start of Ukraine War
Syrian and Russian warplanes on Tuesday carried out a joint military drill amid increasing Israeli airstrikes, Syria’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. It was the first such exercise since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began more than three months ago. In mid-February, before the Russian invasion on February 24, the Russian military deployed long-range nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets carrying hypersonic missiles to Syria for massive naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea. The ministry said the exercise on Tuesday included two Russian SU-35 fighter jets and six Syrian MiG-23 and MiG-29 aircraft, which simulated a confrontation against hostile warplanes and drones. “All illusive targets were monitored and completely destroyed while aerial targets were hit at night for the first time,” the Syrian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The drills and patrols took place near the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and also in the northern and eastern parts of Syria, the statement said. Just hours before the announcement, Syrian state television reported that Israeli missiles had targeted Syrian army positions south of the capital Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties. Israeli warplanes fired several missiles while flying over the Golan Heights before midnight Monday, state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying. The official claimed that Syrian air defenses had shot down most of the missiles. Israel did not comment on the alleged airstrike. Syria state media also reported that Israeli missiles targeted central Syria on May 13, killing five people, including one civilian.