LATAKIA, SYRIA – APRIL 22, 2018: A Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter aircraft at the Russian Hmeimim air base. Marina Lystseva/TASS Ñèðèÿ. Ëàòàêèÿ. Ìíîãîöåëåâîé èñòðåáèòåëü Ñó-24 íà ðîññèéñêîé àâèàáàçå Õìåéìèì. Ìàðèíà Ëûñöåâà/ÒÀÑÑ

AIRBASE KHMEIMIM, September 30. /TASS/. Over the five years since its establishment, Russia’s airbase Khmeimim in Syria has turned into a homey neighborhood with all essential conveniences for its military personnel, while the intensity of flights has eased considerably, Russian military officials told the media.

“At this spot where we are now there was only an impenetrable thicket and these white concrete lego-like modular houses. Here, on an asphalt square, we began to deploy the food battalion and the lunchroom. You can see the stark contrast. Today it’s a flourishing garden,” the deputy chief of staff of the Khmeimim base’s material and logistics service, Igor Tsaryov, said.

The officer remarked that the deployment of such a base was an opportunity for the Russian army’s logistic service to obtain invaluable experience. Over the five years since its emergence the airbase has turned into a homey neighborhood with its own places of interest, blocks and streets. Some of them were named after the heroes of the military operation in Syria, who lost their lives while on combat duty, including Oleg Peshkov, the pilot of the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber, shot down by the Turkish Air Force in 2015, and Roman Filippov, the pilot of a Sukhoi Su-25 fighter-bomber, who was killed in 2018.

A Russian pilot who introduced himself as Ivan said that the timetable of flights today was not as tight as it used to be several years ago. Most of them are conducted for reconnaissance and training purposes.

“The flights are not as intensive as before. Flying today is much easier. We have much more time for rest and recreation. All flight personnel who chanced to perform combat missions here has acquired combat and flying skills that are very different from those one may obtain during training at the tactical proving grounds at home. Here it is very different,” the officer said, adding that he flew his first sortie from Khmeimim in 2016.

Over the five years that Russia’s Aerospace Group has been in Syria its pilots have flown more than 44,000 sorties. As soon as the active phase of the operation was over, most planes and helicopters returned to their permanent locations in Russia.

The group remaining in Syria is necessary for maintaining stability in the region. Although the terrorists have been defeated and the postwar reconstruction process is on, an air group called Zaslon (Screen), armed with Sukhoi Su-35 jets, remains on permanent combat alert.

September 30, 2020 marks precisely five years since the beginning of the military operation for providing assistance to the people of Syria in clearing the country of international terrorist groups.

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