Photo from Ukrinform–UATV
Private Syrian airline, Cham Wings, flies secretly between Damascus in Syria, and Rostov in southern Russia, transporting Russian mercenaries to Syria.
The men are private Russian military contractors, who are being sent in civilian planes to support the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, in his seven-year fight against rebels, a Reuters investigation of the logistical network behind Assad’s forces has uncovered.
Cham Wings was hit with U.S. sanctions in 2016 for allegedly transporting pro-Assad fighters to Syria, and helping Syrian military intelligence transport weapons and equipment.
A Reuters journalist saw one of these flights personally.
There is no public information about these flights and schedules. It is impossible to buy a ticket for them. Airplanes arrive in Rostov, mostly at night and depart early in the morning, when there are almost no other passengers at the airport.
“The flights to Rostov aren’t mentioned on the site. But the journeys do appear in online flight-tracking databases. Reporters traced flights between Rostov airport and Syria from Jan. 5, 2017, to March 11, 2018. In that time, Cham Wings aircraft made 51 round trips, each time using Airbus A320 jets that can carry up to 180 passengers,” the text of the special report by Reuters reads.
The Airbus they flew on was just one of dozens of aircrafts that once belonged to mainstream European and U.S. aviation companies. Then, they were passed through a web of intermediary companies and offshore firms to Middle Eastern airlines subject to U.S. sanctions.
Reuters stresses that the pattern of supply of aircrafts to the Middle East points to a gap in U.S. sanctions. The sanctions should have limited the ability of the Syrian president and his allies from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, to receive troops and equipment necessary for a military campaign.
When asked about flights between Syria and Rostov, the Kremlin Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, referred Reuters to the Ministry of Defense, which did not respond to any questions. The Syrian government also did not answer the agency’s questions.
Cham Wings reported that all information about flights are available on the company’s website, but flights to Rostov are not mentioned. However, they do appear in online flight-tracking databases.