The Chinese presence in the fight againt ISIS makes the strategic situation surrounding the Syrian conflict even more complex, adding a new global dimension to Moscow and Tehran’s military support for Assad.
This also has a detrimental effect on Israel’s strategic and military position and strengthens Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his determination to turn the nuclear deal concluded in July into a tool for isolating the U.S. politically, militarily and economically in the Middle East.
On September 25, 2015 the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning-CV-16 docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, accompanied by a guided missile cruiser. The Chinese aircraft carrier passed through the Suez Canal on September 22, one day after the summit in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The Chinese forces intend to stay in Syria for a longer period; the carrier came to Tartus without its aircraft contingent. The warplanes and helicopters should be in place on its decks by mid-November – flying in directly from China via Iran or transported by giant Russian transports from China through Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
According to military intelligence sources, the Chinese will be sending out to Syria a squadron of J-15 Flying Shark fighters, some for takeoff positions on the carrier’s decks, the rest to be stationed at the Russian airbase near Latakia.
The Chinese will also deploy Z-18F anti-submarine helicopters and Z-18J airborne early warning helicopters. In addition, Beijing will consign at least 1,000 marines to fight alongside their counterparts from Russia and Iran against terrorist groups.
On October 2, 2015 China sent word to Moscow that the J-15 fighter bombers would shortly join the Russian air campaign, a development which brings to five the number or players in Russia’s military intervention in Syria: China, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah.