Russian Federation deploys its most sophisticated jets in Syria

The phone is a hotline between US and Russian officers used to avoid accidental confrontations, and the Russians told the Americans no Russians were in the fight, White said.

"We do not consider these jets to be a threat to our operations in Syria, and will continue to deconflict operations as necessary", Rankine-Galloway said.

On Thursday, Gen Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander, said he was unaware of reports surrounding the Su-57 in Syria, but added the situation in Syria grows more complex by the day.

A deployment to combat operations could be used to impress the IAF and also other prospective buyers like the UAE, which, last year, expressed interest in jointly developing weaponry with Russian Federation.

He also said any deployment could be a cynical move to boost Russia's military sales while gaining valuable intelligence on the F-22.

More recently, however, Prigozhin's so called Wagner group struck an agreement with the Syrian government to seize oil and gas fields in rebel-held territory in Syria, and Prigozhin stands to get a share of the profits.

In Russia, anger is growing among relatives of the dead and survivors, and supporters of private military companies like Vagner, which is believed to have sent hundreds of contract soldiers to Syria.

It has deployed advanced, complicated systems like submarine-launched cruise missiles, which are designed for high-end naval warfighting, against unsophisticated, basically defenseless targets in Syria.

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The Sukhoi Su-57 planes, the first of their kind, were spotted at the Khmeimim air base in the Syrian port city of Latakia.

Though the Su-57 is " certainly not combat proven in the sense of showing it can take on Western fighters", which is its intended goal, the plane technically will have participated in combat.

The first two Su-57 arrived in Syria on February 22.

Friends and families of the Russian military contractors said the mercenaries were among the many killed in retaliatory U.S. airstrikes in northern Syria earlier this month.

The American military, which acknowledged in December that it has 2,000 troops in Syria in addition to air support of Kurdish-led fighters opposed to Assad, has been vague about what happened other than saying the strike was in "self-defense" against a pro-Assad attack.

Analysts believe the latest deployment is likely to send a warning to countries such as the USA against intervention in Syria.

When the USA soldiers called in airstrikes to defend themselves, they had no idea they would end up killing dozens Russian civilians.

  • Megan Austin