Russian military pilots are widening flight zones over Syria and start patrolling new areas in the country’s northern and northeastern provinces.
The helicopters’ crews told reporters that they are tasked not only with supporting military police units near the Syrian-Turkish border, but also with ensuring security at points of distributing humanitarian assistance in Aleppo and Al-Hasakah, TASS reports.
According to Mi-35 helicopter’s commander Alexei Trefilov, currently Russian planes mainly fly to northern Syria. "We carry out flights at very low altitudes, bypassing settlements, and we are ready to fulfill combat tasks at any time of the day or night. We pay attention in order to avoid large concentration of people and transport," he noted. Pilots have to fly at the altitude of 30 or 50 meters above ground in some areas due to security reasons.
In his turn, Mi-8 helicopter’s pilot-navigator Artem Solovyov noted that every day two or three these helicopters fly over these territories at the speed of 200 km per hour at a very low altitude. These patrol missions take nearly two hours. Russia’s air patrol flies above areas near the Euphrates River, where major Syrian hydroelectric power stations are located, namely Tabqa in the Raqqa Governorate and Tishrin in the Aleppo Governorate.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum on joint actions in northeastern Syria at a meeting in Sochi. The document envisaged that Russian military police and Syrian border guards would enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border by October 23 to facilitate the removal of Kurdish units and their weapons to the depth of 30 kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border. The Kurds were given 150 hours to complete the process. On November 1, Russia and Turkey began joint patrols east of the Euphrates River in Syria.