The Syrian Defense Ministry said the Russian and Syrian air forces conducted joint exercises over the Arab country on Tuesday, the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began more than three months ago.
The ministry said that two Russian SU-35 fighters and six Syrian MiG-23 and MiG-29 fighters simulated a clash with “enemy” aircraft and drones. He pointed out that the Syrian pilots dealt with the planes with cover and support from the Russian planes.
“All phantom targets were monitored and completely destroyed, while the air targets were bombed for the first time at night,” the ministry said in a statement. It also published a video of the aircraft that it said had participated in the exercises.
This announcement came hours after Syrian TV announced that Israeli missiles had been launched at Syrian sites south of Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties.
Syrian state television, quoting an unnamed military source, said that Israeli warplanes fired several missiles while flying over the Syrian territories occupied by Israel in the Golan Heights. Most of the missiles were shot down by Syrian air defenses.
Israel has not commented on the attack.
According to Syrian state media, Israeli missiles hit central Syria on May 13, killing five people, including a civilian, as well as setting fire to agricultural land in the area.
Russia became involved militarily in Syria in September 2015, helping to turn the conflict in favor of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. About half a million people were killed during the 11 years of civil war in Syria.
The Syrian Defense Ministry said that during Tuesday’s exercises, Russian and Syrian planes conducted joint patrols near the Golan Heights and other parts of the south.
The last such maneuver was a week before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. In mid-February, Russian forces deployed the latest nuclear-capable bombers and warplanes with hypersonic missiles in Syria to conduct massive naval exercises in the Mediterranean.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against targets in Syria over the years, but it rarely acknowledges or comments on these operations. The country says it is attacking the bases of militias allied with Iran, such as the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has fighters in Syria and fighting alongside Assad’s forces, as well as arms shipments believed to be destined for the militias.
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