A group of Russian helicopters has been relocated from the Khmeimim Air Base to an airfield in the city of Qamishli in Syrian Kurdistan, the Zvezda TV channel reported, publishing a video clip of the helicopters being relocated. The helicopters’ arrival in Qamishli was also reported by the Interfax news agency, which cited the head of the aviation commandant’s office in the city, Timur Khodzhaev.
“This is the first group of combat helicopters from the Russian Aerospace Forces in northern Syria. They are preparing to land,” said Zvezda’s correspondent in the video. The landing area had been cordoned off by military police. Pantsir aerial defense systems provided cover for the helicopters from the ground.
The helicopters took about five hours to fly to the Qamishli airfield, Zvezda notes. They will be used to provide protection for the Russian military police which patrol the border zone with Turkey as part of the Russian-Turkish memorandum.
Previously Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that an aviation commandant’s office would be established in the city of Qamishli. In a press release, the department said that the new base would help the military to patrol the north-eastern part of the Al-Hasakah province, which borders with Turkey and Iraq.
Until October, the US had maintained a military base in Qamishli. The US military abandoned it following the start of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring against the Kurdish armed groups, and a Russia-mediated agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian government army.
Russian military police are patrolling the border in north-eastern Syria in accordance with a memorandum that was signed by the leaders of Turkey and Russia on October 22.