Recent moves by Russia to send a military advance team to Syria along with other steps are raising concerns in the United States that Russian president Vladamir Putin is planning to greatly expand his military support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria administration officials said Friday.
According to the New York Times, the moves Russia is making, such as recently transporting temporary housing units capable of housing hundreds of people to an airfield in Syria as well as the delivery of a portable air traffic control station to the airfield are complicating repeated efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to gather Putin’s support to create a diplomatic solution in war torn Syria.
It has also been reported that Russia has filed military overflight requests with adjacent countries through September.
American officials have recognized that there is no certainty of what Russia intends to accomplish with these moves, however the arrival of the temporary housing suggests that Russia could be sending up to 1,000 military personnel to the airfield. The airfield serves Syria main port city of Latakia and is close to the Assad family’s ancestral home.
While American officials have stated that the airfield could act as the home base for Russian airstrikes against Syrian rebels in support of Assad, there has been no sign from Russia that they intend to send in a large number of ground forces as well.
The New York Times reported that in addition to following the Russian movements at the airfield, American intelligence analysts are also watching Russian ports in an effort to determine what additional supplies may be headed to Syria. A supplementary 2,000 to 3,000 personnel could also be deployed in the future one official predicted.
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