A Russian humanitarian plane carrying food into Syria returned from the country with 87 Russian citizens. The plane was carrying at least 20 metric tons of provisions, including canned meat, fish and milk products, according to Tass, a state-owned news agency.

The return flight brought back Russian citizens and nationals of former Soviet countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of former Soviet countries founded after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The flight went to Latakia, a northwestern port city of Syria.

"The Il-76 plane is currently flying back from Latakia to Moscow," a government representative said. "Some 87 people willing to leave the conflict zone are on board the plane, including 54 Russian citizens, 12 citizens of Syria and 10 of Ukraine, as well as citizens of Belarus and Kazakhstan."

That Russia is flying people out of the war-ravaged country is only one of many ways that the Russian government has been involved in Syria. It also has provided other types of aid to the Syria government.

Russia has been sending political, economic and military aid to Syria since at least June, when it was revealed that the country had made promises to help the Syrian government with ongoing struggles there. Russia also has remained steady on deals to provide weaponry, including aircraft and missile defense systems and aircraft. As of the end of June, Syria had paid for at least six aircraft, a contract worth $100 million.

Russia's involvement with Syria also has led to nimble political and military dealings for the United States, where President Barack Obama has seen considerable pressure to escalate the U.S.'s role in battles against the Islamic State there. Because of diplomatic relations with Russia and other Eastern countries, the United States has been reluctant to fully implement a no-fly zone within the Syrian border.