Russian forces in Syria will conduct drills in the international waters off the coast of Israel and Syria between September 19 and 26 following the Israeli provocation few days ago which led to the downing of a Russian Il-20 intelligence plane by the Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces (SyAADF).
A released navigational warning map shows that Russian forces will impose a no-fly zone covering most of the area around Israel waters during the drills.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin promised to improve the security of Russian forces in Syria following the Il-20 incident. Some Syrian experts claimed that the ongoing drills serve this goal as well as send a message to Israel that Russia will not back off from supporting its allies in Damascus and Tehran.
The Israeli actions were also condemned by Yasin Aktay, a senior advisor of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused Israel of attempting to sabotage the new Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement, which prevented a battle in the Syrian governorate of Idlib. According to Aktay, Israel’s priority is to keep the war ongoing in Syria.
Under the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement a 15 to 20km wide demilitarized area will be established around Idlib. Units of the Russian and Turkish military police will patrol the area to ensure the implementation of the agreement. Later both countries will focus on disarming the remaining militants and fighting the radical groups in the northwestern governorate.