Russia began its military engagement in Syria in support of the Assad government on September 30th 2015, in a campaign dominated by intense airstrikes, and later also by artillery actions. While Moscow initially claimed to be targeting so-called Islamic State, it soon became clear that rebel-held areas of Syria were its main focus. The campaign eventually saw much of Syria return to Assad government control.
More than 45,000 airstrikes were declared in just the first three years of fighting – many targeting civilian areas and infrastructure according to observers. More than 24,000 non-combatants have been locally alleged killed either by Moscow’s actions, or in events where communities were unable to distinguish between Russian and regime attacks. Russia itself still publicly maintains no civilians have been harmed in its strikes.