Russian troops in Syria deployed in Latakia have been reinforced by 28 fighter and bomber aircrafts, US officials on condition of anonymity said, Joinfo.ua reports with the reference to AFP.
“There are 28 fighter and bomber aircraft” at an airfield in the western Syrian province of Latakia, one of the officials told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A second official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the figure, and added there were about 20 Russian combat and transport helicopters at the base.
That official also said Russia was operating drones over Syria, but did not give additional details.
Washington in recent weeks has expressed growing concern over Russia’s increasing military presence in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States has warned that Russian military backing for the Syrian regime only risks sending more extremists to the war-torn country and could further hamper any effort at bringing peace.
Moscow, meanwhile, has been on a diplomatic push to get the coalition of Western and regional powers fighting the Islamic State group to join forces with Assad against the jihadists.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday, ending an 18-month freeze in military relations triggered by NATO anger over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
They agreed to continue discussions, which are crucial to lessen the risk of incidents involving coalition forces and Russian forces operating in the same air space.
The US-led coalition is carrying out almost daily strikes against the jihadists in Syria.
It should be recalled that last week the Stratfor company published photos confirming that the Russian soldiers are building a military air base in the Syrian Latakia airport.
In the photos one can see how in the airport are being built two additional sites for helicopters, and the runway is being extended along its entire length, obviously, in order to receive heavy transport aircraft.
Russian journalists, concerned by recruiting campaign carried in some regions of the RF, conducted the investigation. According to the results, some Russian soldiers have been sent to Syria while they thought they had been going to the Donbas.
Several soldiers refused to go, pointing that there was no written order and numerous inconsistencies. But, as they say, a local military prosecutor’s office refused to take their statements.