US, NATO Leery of Russian Actions in Syria

U.S. suspicions about Russian activity in Syria are not confined to Syria’s borders. Officials in Washington are concerned the moves could be part of a broader strategy by Moscow to extend its influence, while at the same time acting as a counterbalance to the United States in the Middle East.


U.S. officials are investigating reports that Russia is increasingly sending supplies — and possibly advisers and combat troops — to aid the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


The reports indicate that the Russian navy has transported many military supplies, with full-sized vehicles being unloaded in some cases.


On Tuesday, a senior U.S. defense official told VOA that Russia has also been airlifting military supplies to Syria. He called such activities “unhelpful.”


The official also cautioned that Russia’s intentions, both in Syria and in the region, remained unclear and that there were “a lot of things to worry about. Their efforts there should look to enhance stability, not undermine it.”


Moscow and Damascus have denied allegations of an increased Russian military presence in Syria.  Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told a television station owned by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that such reports were “concocted in Western intelligence circles.”


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