Russian involvement in Iraq has prompted U.S. concerns that Iraqi officials may be sharing classified information with Russia and Iran amid a significant increase in Russian activity in Syria.

The positioning of Russian aircraft in Syria gives the Kremlin an ability to shape and control U.S. and Western operations in both Syria and Iraq out of all proportion to the size of the Russian force.

Russia has been using an advanced form of hybrid warfare in Ukraine since early 2014 that relies heavily on an element of information warfare that the Russians call “reflexive control.”

Satellite imagery provided by AllSource Analysis confirms the recent arrival of Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and other military equipment at an airbase in Latakia, indicating that Russia has deployed troops inside Syria.

ISW’s updated ISIS sanctuary map includes a new attack zone in Deraa, southwestern Syria and an expanded sanctuary zone in Idlib, northwestern Syria. ISIS claimed an attack against the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) in Deraa on August 18.

Latest from ISW

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30-October 3, 2015

Russian airstrikes continue to primarily target Syrian opposition groups in areas far from ISIS's core terrain. These strikes are concentrated in northwestern Syria, particularly in rebel-held areas of Idlib Province and the northern countryside of Hama Province. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed only three airstrikes targeting positions in known ISIS-held terrain between October 1 and October 3. However, local reporting only confirmed two of these strikes.

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30-October 1, 2015

Russia conducted a second round of airstrikes in Syria on October 1, targeting rebel-held positions in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, and Aleppo. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has repeatedly claimed that the airstrikes are targeting ISIS positions in these rebel-held areas. These airstrikes are the first Russian strikes confirmed by the Russian MoD that have targeted positions in ISIS-held terrain.

Russian Military Activity: September 2015

Russia mobilized and transported forces and equipment to Syria under the guise of military exercises. ­The link between Russia’s arrival at the naval base at Tartus and its military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean are clear, and the proximity in time of Russia’s deployment into Syria and its Center 2015 exercise indicates that these military exercises served as preludes or covers for deployments.

Russian Airstrikes in Syria: September 30, 2015

An alleged Russian airstrike hit the rebel-held town of Talbisah north of Homs City. Talbisah is home to Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, hardline Islamist Ahrar al-Sham, and a number of other local rebel groups, all of which are active in local governance efforts in the area. If confirmed, the airstrike would signal Russian intent to assist in the Syrian regime's war effort at large, rather than securing the regime's coastal heartland of Latakia and Tartous.

International Community’s Position on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: September 30, 2015

These charts contrast international leaders’ positions on Assad before and after mainstream media coverage of Russia’s deployment of aircraft to Syria, marked here as September 4, 2015. Several leaders softened their stance on the Syrian leader following Russian intervention, undermining the United States’ stated goal of achieving a negotiated political solution in which Assad is not in power.