On November 26, Russian forces and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) held a joint military exercise near the city of al-Qamishli in the northeastern Syrian governorate of al-Hasakah, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The joint military exercise was reportedly held at al-Qamishli International Airport, where Russia maintains a fairly large force.
“The Russians used live ammunition [during the exercise], likely including artillery and missiles as well,” the London-based monitoring group said in a report.
While the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control most of northeastern Syria, its share control over al-Qamishli city with the SAA.
Last month, Russia deployed several fighter jets at al-Qamishli International Airport and held a series of live-fire drills with the SAA in the northeastern region. The Russian military moves were a response to reports of a near Turkish-led military operation against the SDF in the region.
Russia appears to be determined to deter Turkey and prevent any new military operations in northeastern Syria, where the humanitarian situation is very fragile.
A few days ago, a senior delegation from the SDF’s political wing, the Syrian Democratic Council, paid a rare visit to Moscow. The delegation discussed Russian support to SDF-held areas as well as peace talks with the Damascus government.
Russia’s serious support could drive the SDF away from its main backer, the US. This would be a major political win for Moscow.