Europe, Turkey Close Airspace To Russian Warplanes Flying Anti-ISIS Missions, General Says
Exactly a month ago, Russia took it up a notch in Syriaby deploying Tupolev Tu-95 Bears, Tu-22 Blinders, and Tu-160 Blackjacks in the fight against anti-Assad elements including ISIS and al-Nusra.
The first footage of the strategic long-range bombers in action surfaced on November 17 and served notice that Moscow is willing to double down on its commitment to the fight even if securing key cities like Aleppo proves more challenging that The Kremlin originally anticipated.
According to Gen. Anatoly Konovalov, deputy commander of Russia’s long-range aviation force, Moscow’s long-range warplanes have carried out 145 sorties against terrorist targets since mid-November. “In total, long-range aviation aircraft in Syria have carried out around 145 mission sorties, some 1,500 bombs have been dropped and about 20 cruise missiles have been fired,” Konovalov said.
Those who have followed the Syrian conflict might recall that in early September (so before Moscow made Russia’s involvement “official”) the US pressured Greece to deny Russia use of its airspace on supply runs to Latakia. Subsequently, Bulgaria said it had “enough serious doubts about the cargo of the planes” to refuse overflight privileges.