Russia is taking a more active role in propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad,expanding its physical footprint in the Middle East.
American officials admitted to The New York Times that Russia is now using an air corridor over Iran and Iraq to transport military equipment and personnel to Syria despite US attempts to guard this airspace.
Russia is reportedly transporting marines, pre-fabricated housing for at least 1,000 people, a portable air traffic control system, and other items that could be used to create an air base for air combat operations to northwest Syria, according to CBS News.
This constitutes “the most significant new Russian military foothold in the Middle East in decades,” American officials told the Times. Continued Russian military buildup in Syria could “greatly enhance [Russia’s] ability to project power in Syria and neighboring states,” according to the Times.
“This is the most important Russian power projection in the region in decades and it will enhance Russia’s influence throughout the Levant,” Stephen Blank, a Russian military expert at the American Foreign Policy Council, told the Times.
Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA, told CBS News last week that flying over Iran and Iraq was Russia’s last viable option for transporting the material and personnel to Russia after Turkey and Bulgaria refused to let Russia use its airspace for flights to Syria.
Iran has already agreed to let Russia run flights over the country, which leaves it up to Iraq to decide whether to stop the flights. The US has objected to the Syria flights, but Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said they would continue, according to the Times.
Iran gladly agreed with the Russian flights and Iraq really doesn’t have the power to stop them.
Russia’s military build-up in Syria has grown to include the shipment of a half-dozen highly sophisticated battle tanks — and more troops — a defense official told Fox News, in what the source called the “first clear sign of offensive weapons arriving in Syria.”
The Pentagon has now tracked a total of 15 Russian Antonov-124 Condor flights into Syria, reflecting a steady stream of military cargo into Syria. According to the latest intelligence, this also includes the arrival of two more Russian cargo ships, containing the tanks.
Up to this point, the official said, the Russian cargo and weapons that have been delivered to Syria could be viewed as defensive in nature. The arrival of tanks cannot be viewed this way.
The official said that Russian offensive operations could launch from Bassel Al-Assad International Airport “very soon.”
The massive Condor flights carrying all kinds of supplies now arrive twice a day through Iran and Iraq into Bassel Al-Assad International Airport outside the port city of Latakia. The cargo is for Russian soldiers, not Syrian government forces, but is seen as a build-up to aid Bashar Assad’s embattled regime.
The defense official, briefed on the latest satellite photos of the Syrian coastline, said: “This is the largest deployment of Russian forces outside the former Soviet Union since the collapse of the USSR.”
The two additional Russian ships arrived over the weekend in Tartus, a Syrian port used by the Russian Navy since the ’70s. The ships offloaded additional troops and armor and, for the first time, a half-dozen third-generation T-90 main battle tanks.
Accompanying the tanks were 15 fresh artillery pieces.
In addition to the influx of tanks and artillery, 35 armored personnel carriers, similar to the U.S. Army’s Bradley fighting vehicles, have come ashore in Syria on top of dozens that arrived last week.
There are no signs of additional surface-to-air missiles, but as Fox News confirmed Friday, components for the SA-22 surface-to-air missile system have been seen assembled in Syria recently.
Additional housing units also have been seen from overhead by the U.S. military, making it possible for the Russians to house up to 1,500 combat troops.
Russia is also conducting a large scale exercise involving 95,000 troops.
Like I said, this is the kind of shit that happens when America stops being a world leader. Putin can’t believe his luck. Vladimir has revamped the old Soviet-style aggression right under Barky’s nose. He’s doubling down everywhere; from the Ukraine, to Crimea, Georgia, Iran, and Syria, Russia has expanded influence not seen since the Cold War.
As long as Obama is in the White House, the entire enemy conglomerate on the planet, including Islamofascist nation-states and communist regimes, are laughing in our faces.