Before dawn on Thursday, Sept. 24, Russian marines went into battle for the first time since their deployment to Syria, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reveal. Russian Marine Brigade 810 fought with Syrian army and Hizballah special forces in an attack on ISIS forces at the Kweiris airbase, east of Aleppo. This operation runs contrary to the assurances of President Vladimir Putin to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sept. 21

– just three days ago – that Russian forces in Syria were only there to defend Russian interests and would not engaged in combat with the Syrian army, Hizballah or Iranian troops. The ISIS force defending the air base is dominated by Chechen fighters under the command of Abu Omar al-Shishani, who is considered one of the terrorist organization’s leading commanders in the last two years. The 27-year-old al-Shishani hails from the Chechen enclave of Pankisi in Georgia, like many others who joined ISIS from 2012. FULL REPORT