Russian hands-off warning to US, Saudis, Turks amid crucial Aleppo battle

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The five-year Syrian civil war, faces its most critical moment. Saturday, Feb. 6, a combined force of Syrian army and Hizballah troops and an Iraqi Shiite militia under Iranian officers, were led by Russian air and Spetsnaz (special forces) officers into pressing forward to encircle 35,000 rebels trapped in Aleppo, the country’s largest city. As they tightened the siege, 400,000 Syrian civilians were also trapped and forced to bear heavy Russian air bombardment and savage artillery fire from the ground forces closing in on the city. Continue reading

Putin urges military to destroy threats to forces in Syria

Amid beefed-up Russian presence in war-torn country, order seen as veiled threat at Turkey

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Friday vowed to further modernize Russian arsenals and said that its military in Syria will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them, a strong warning to Turkey following its shoot-down of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.

Speaking at a meeting with the top military brass, Putin named “strengthening of the combat potential of strategic nuclear forces and the implementation of space defense programs” as a key priority. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the military has received 35 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year and put forward equally ambitious weapons modernization plans for next year despite Russia’s economic downturn. Continue reading

Russia plane entered Israel control zone from Syria: minister

A Russian warplane recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria but the intrusion was resolved without incident, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday.

Yaalon’s comments come amid deep concern over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey, which claims it strayed over the Syrian border into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to change course. Moscow denies the allegations. Continue reading