US: Russia Still Using Artillery, Helicopters in Syria

End to Airstrikes Doesn't Mean End to Involvement

Pentagon officials told reporters today that with Russian having withdrawn the bulk of its warplanes from Syria, they are continuing to launch artillery strikes against ISIS targets, particularly around Palmyra and Tadmur, which is the target of a Syrian offensive.

The officials seemed to be trying to present this as undercutting Russia’s pullout, though President Vladimir Putin openly talked yesterday about continuing to support the offensive around Palmyra, and never really ruled out continuing to back Syria in fights against ISIS.

Indeed, that Col. Ryder, the Centcom spokesman, admitted the US hadn’t seen a single Russian airstrike in Syria in the past week actually undercuts Pentagon claims Wednesday that they hadn’t seen any reduction in Russian military assets in Syria.

Russia has kept artillery and attack helicopters in Syria for now, and also left its S-400 air defense system in the country as a hedge against foreign attack. Putin added yesterday they could get their forces back into Syria in a matter of hours if they have to.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.