Russia ‘is building military base in Syria’

American officials express concern about latest intelligence suggesting Moscow is preparing to send hundreds of personnel to prop up Assad regime

Russia is building a military base in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s heartland, according to American intelligence officials, in the clearest indication yet of deepening Russian support for the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The anonymous officials say Russia has set up an air traffic control tower and transported prefabricated housing units for up to 1,000 personnel to an airfield serving the Syrian port city of Latakia.

Mr Obama on Friday met King Salman of Saudi Arabia to repeat their demand that any lasting settlement in Syria would require an end to the Assad regime.

The new US details came in the week that Vladimir Putin gave his strongest admission yet that Russia was already providing some military and logistical support to Syria.

“We are already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons,” he said during an economic forum in Vladivostok on Friday, according to the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

Last week the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth cited Western diplomatic sources saying that Russia was on the verge of deploying “thousands” of troops to Syria to establish an airbase from which the Russian air force would fly combat sorties against Isil.

Those details appear to be backed by satellite images of a Russian base under construction near Latakia, according to anonymous intelligence officials quoted by several American newspapers.

“If they’re moving people in to help the Syrian government fight their own fight, that’s one thing,” one told the Los Angeles Times. “But if they’re moving in ground forces and dropping bombs on populated areas, that’s an entirely different matter.”

Syria is already home to Russia’s only base outside the former Soviet Union – a naval station in Tartus.

Full article: Russia ‘is building military base in Syria’ (The Telegraph)

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