SYRIA

Did Iranian jets enter Syria's airspace? Probably not.

An Iranian F14 Tomcat. Screen grab from the video below.
An Iranian F14 Tomcat. Screen grab from the video below.

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Russia’s air force recently published a video demonstrating its air strikes in Syria. It is a typical military propaganda video, but a few seconds of the footage has raised eyebrows. From 1.25 to 1.36 in the video, an Iranian F14 Tomcat plane can be seen flying alongside Russian Su-24 fighter jets. Iran’s flag is visible on the tail of the jet.

This footage caused Israeli media outlets to run articles pointing to this as the “first sign” of the Iranian air force in Syria. For Israel, which borders Syria and is enemies with Iran, this would be a major development.

However, nothing in this piece of the video indicates that it was actually filmed in Syria. And according to a French army general contacted by FRANCE 24, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of his work, the military has seen no indications that Iranian jets are present in Syria.

So where were these images filmed? Most likely, in Iran. Aviation news specialists have reported that Iran’s air force recently escorted Russian jets from Iran’s northern border all the way to the border with Iraq, where they exited Iranian airspace. Though this was not confirmed outright by Iran’s military, they hinted that it was true – on November 20, the air force chief said it was possible that they had recently escorted the Russian air force in Iranian airspace.

This would not be out of the ordinary. A few months ago, Iranian jets escorted Russian jets flying over Iran to attend an international air show in Bahrain. And it’s not just Iran – the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force recently escorted a Russian fighter jet that was flying over its airspace as it took a long route home from a mission in Syria.