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Russian, Syrian helicopter pilots hold first-ever joint drills in Syrian Desert

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian marines disembark from a helicopter during military exercises in this file photo. (By Reuters)

Russian and Syrian helicopter pilots have been holding their first-ever joint drills in Syria’s southeastern desert.

The first phase of the joint tactical flight training, which ended on Monday, involved the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force, Chief of Aviation of the Russian forces in Syria Andrei Yermakov was quoted as saying by TASS.

“During the training, we practiced cooperation between Russian and Syrian air units during missions aimed at hitting predetermined and impromptu targets, as well as at facilitating the landing of tactical airborne units,” Yermakov informed.

He said it was the first exercise involving Russian and Syrian helicopter pilots in the Syrian Desert.

The exercise involved Russia’s Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters and Kamov Ka-52 combat helicopters, while Syria used the Mil Mi-24 helicopters.

The first phase took place in Syrian Desert under simulated combat conditions, a report in TASS said.

According to reports in the Syrian media, the exercise will continue for several days in which the Russian pilots would share their experiences with their Syrian counterparts.

The exercise is being conducted in close proximity to the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, located in the middle of the Syrian Desert, 215 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

The city was used by foreign-backed militants as a safe haven for years.

Importantly, the Russian Aerospace Force has been deployed to Syria since 2015, and has helped the Syrian government forces in liberating many areas from foreign mercenaries.

Meanwhile, according to reports, more than 400 militants holed up in southwestern province of Dara’a have agreed to lay down arms and renounce violence following breach of a truce brokered by Moscow.

Syrian military this week renewed its attacks on the last militant enclave in Dara’a following the collapse of a Russian-mediated deal to restore government rule in the area.

Back in 2018, Syrian army troops, backed by Russia and Iran, managed to establish control over Dara’a, which is bordered by Jordan to the south and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west. 

Recently, Russia has been mediating a new deal to end the fighting in Dara’a, which requires militants who reject the deal to leave the region.


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