Russian military build-up in Syria ‘unprecedented,’ officials say
U.S. officials are expressing growing concern about Russia’s military build-up in Assad-controlled Syria, calling it “unprecedented” — with one telling Fox News it compares in scope to Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Crimea.
“It’s beginning to look like Crimyria,” the official told Fox News.
Two U.S. officials who have reviewed the latest intelligence told Fox News that satellite imagery reveals more flights of massive Russian An-124 “condor” military cargo planes landing in Syria. They are offloading troops, including just under 50 Russian marines, and armored vehicles.
U.S. officials said the Russian activity in Syria is unlike any they’ve seen since the start of the Syrian civil war four years ago.
“This is definitely a build-up straight out of Russia’s military doctrine,” said one official.
The Russian government is not denying the build-up.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry disclosed early Wednesday that Russian military experts indeed are assisting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s long-running civil war.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Reuters that advisers were assisting with Russian arms deliveries to Syrian government forces, which Moscow says are aimed at fighting Islamist militants. The spokeswoman did not give a precise number of Russian military personnel in Syria.
The exact extent of the build-up is unclear, but a U.S. official told Fox News that the Russians have constructed 100 additional housing units at a base near Latakia, a coastal city along the Mediterranean.
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