Syrian, Russian fighter jets stage joint air patrol mission over occupied Golan Heights
Russia’s Defense Ministry says Russian and Syrian fighter jets have conducted a joint air patrol mission in the airspace along the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the Euphrates River.
“The mission’s route ran along the Golan Heights, the southern order, the Euphrates River and over northern Syria. While Russian pilots took off from Hmeimim air base, Syrians were deployed from Sayqal and al-Dumayr military airports outside Damascus,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that the mission involved Russia’s Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-35 twin-engine fighter bombers as well as Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, besides Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter aircraft belonging to the Syrian Air Force.
“During the patrol mission, Syrian pilots controlled airspace and provided aerial cover, while Russian crews practiced attacks on ground targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry noted.
“The two countries’ pilots practiced skills for cooperation in various situations. Similar patrols will be staged on a regular basis in the future,” the statement stressed.
In 1967, Israeli regime waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later – a move never recognized by the international community.
In 1973, another war broke out; and a year later a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Heights. However, Israel has over the past several decades built dozens of illegal settlements in Golan in defiance of international calls for the regime to stop its illegal construction activities.
In a unilateral move rejected by the international community in 2019, former US president Donald Trump signed a decree recognizing Israeli “sovereignty” over Golan.
Nevertheless, Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over Golan, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.
The United Nations has also time and again emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the territory.