AMMAN, Jordan – Syria’s air force has redeployed 30 Sukhoi fighter-bomber jets closer to cities where the army is battling to crush rebels in the north and east of the country, an opposition group said on Tuesday.
The Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-22 planes, which can drop 400 kg (881 pound) bombs, flew from the Dumair and Sim air bases north and east of Damascus on Monday to bases in the city of Hama Tabaqa and Deir al-Zor, a senior official in the Higher Leadership Council for the Syrian Revolution said.
“This type of Sukhoi is more geared to bombing missions than aerial combat. They are now within a more manageable range to hit the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Deir al-Zor and areas in Idlib province,” Mohammad Mroueh told Reuters from Amman.
The redeployment comes as President Bashar al-Assad – who is thought to have at least 555 combat planes at his disposal – is trying to put down a 17-month-old uprising against his rule with few signs that either side is gaining the upper hand.
With his ground troops increasingly stretched, government forces have been using fighter jets to bombard areas under rebel control in the northern provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and in the eastern region of Deir al-Zor.
Mroueh said his group had received the information about the jets from sources within the military sympathetic to the uprising.
The report could not be independently verified.