Russian Moves in Syria Widen Role in Mideast

“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue,” Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday. “They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”

The Russians have not sent attack planes to the airfield, and the Kremlin has not said whether they will. But the military buildup by Russia, which has been supporting Mr. Assad throughout the four-and-a-half-year Syrian civil war, adds a new friction point in its relations with the United States.

“I don’t believe Western governments are prepared to do very much to slow down or block the risky course the Russians are going on,” said Andrew S. Weiss, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a former Russia expert for the National Security Council, the State Department and the Pentagon. Continue reading

Russian specialists involved in Syria intercepting Turkish jet, sources say

Diplomatic sources talking to the Sunday Times say Syria shot down the Turkish plane to warn NATO not to intervene in the Syrian conflict.

Russian technicians were involved in the taking down of the Turkish fighter jet by the Syrian military last week the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

Sourcing Middle Eastern diplomatic sources the Times reported that the decision to down the Turkish jet was intended to signal a warning to NATO to stay out of the conflict raging in Syria for over a year.

Russia supplied Syria with advanced anti-aircraft missile systems three years ago. It is believed that Russian specialists trained the Syrian forces to use them. According to diplomats that spoke with the Sunday Times some Russian specialists are still stationed at the missile battery control centers.

“We would not be surprised if these Russian experts, if they didn’t push the button, at least were beside the Syrian officers who did it,” an Israeli air force source told the British paper.

Full article: Russian specialists involved in Syria intercepting Turkish jet, sources say (Haaretz)