Russia shocked military observers across the globe yesterday when it announced it was immediately pulling its forces out of Syria, where aircraft had been operating in support of dictator Bashar Al-Assad. The surprise move follows the region's first remotely solid ceasefire in years.
Russia's Syrian expedition largely consisted of air forces at the Hmeimim Airbase, near the city of Latakia. The speed that the base was developed at and the way it was rapidly staffed with men and materiel was a testament to Russia's military logistical capabilities. And now, as quickly as Russian air forces moved in, they're flying right back out.
The footage comes from the Russian Defense Ministry and shows the departure of Russian aircraft from the Hemimim base. In it, we can see Su-34 Fullback attack fighters taking off from the base. Once in the air, the fighters are led by a Tu-154 transport, carrying technical and engineering personnel from the base. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the aircraft, which have also been led by hulking Il-76 Candid transports, follow an "assigned route" over Iraq, Iran, and the Caspian Sea before entering Russian airspace. They generally remain in formation until they reach Russian airspace, before breaking off for specific destinations.
You can check out the video up top. And if you're wondering why the Russian's decided to up and leave Syria so suddenly, Foxtrot Alpha has an excellent analysis of the situation, focusing on the vulnerability of Russian aircraft to shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and how that could lead to a much pricier bombing campaign, should the ceasefire break.