Russian Involvement in Syria?

Operation Inherent Resolve officials and now Moscow are denying reports Russia has dispatched combat aircraft to Syria as well as pilots and advisors to assist the Assad regime by striking ISIS and rebel elements. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters Sept. 4 he did not “have any information on Russian activity in Syria,” but he also acknowledged, “We have issues with the regime obviously operating in Syria.” For example, CJTF-OIR planners must deconflict air sorties with Syrian government operations. “I can’t imagine that if we went down that road [deconflicting with Russian aircraft] would be much different,” he added. No credible open press or satellite imagery has emerged thus far to confirm the deployment has occurred. “Russia maintains [military technical] cooperation with Syria and supports it,” Dimitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told the Russian news wire TASS on Sept. 3. “You should not believe these media reports,” he added when asked about Russian airstrikes in Syria.