US says Russia wants 'forward air operating base' in Syria

US claims that Russia’s latest military move in Syria suggests that Moscow plans to establish forward air operating base

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian servicemen seen observing Mi-28 military helicopters

The US has said that the latest move of Russia in Syria’s northwestern city of Latakia suggests that Moscow is planning to establish a ‘’forward air operating base.’’

According to Moscow, military equipment is being sent to Syria to help the Assad regime. Russian President, Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will continue to supply Syrian government with military assistance.

Pentagon spokesman, Jeff Davies has said that "We have seen indications in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia and the air base there that suggests that it intends to establish some sort of a forward air operating base," 

He also said that the US is concerned about Russian military moves could lead to a conflict with the US-led coalition air strikes that are being conducted in Syria against ISIS.

Earlier this month, Bulgaria refused to let Russian aircraft cross its airspace due to the fear that Russia was sending extra military equipment support to Syria.

Later, Russia said it had been given permission to pass and fly over Iranian territory into Syria.

Syrian state television has displayed images of an advanced Russian-built armoured personnel carrier in Syria. Video also indicates that troops were shouting orders in Russian.

NATO Chief, Jens Stoltenberg stated that if Russia is deploying military personnel in Syria, then Moscow's involvement would not help to put an end to the conflict that has killed more than 240,000 people and displaced millions of people inside and outside the country.

Moscow, Syria's ally since the Cold War, has a naval base stationed in the Syrian coastal city of Tartus and it is likely hoping to defend its presence there, since it is the only Russian base in the Mediterranean.

Things have come to a head this year, in which Assad’s grip on power has been made more tenuous after the international shift against him.

TRTWorld and agencies