NEW YORK: Russia is building a military base in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s heartland, according to American intelligence officials, in the clearest indication yet of deepening support from Moscow for the embattled regime.The anonymous officials say Russia has set up an air traffic control tower and transported prefabricated housing units for up to 1,000 personnel to an airfield serving the Syrian port city of Latakia.Russia has also requested the right to fly over neighbouring countries with military cargo aircraft throughout this month, according to the reports.The claims, which will raise fears that Russia is planning to expand its role in the country’s civil war, will ratchet up tensions between Moscow and Washington over the future of Syria and its brutal ruler.Russia has been a key supporter of Mr Assad during the past four years of civil war, using its UN Security Council veto to ease international pressure on his embattled regime.On Friday Barack Obama met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia to repeat the US’s insistence that any lasting settlement in Syria requires an end to the Assad regime.It leaves the US and Russia implacably opposed in their visions for Syria.
DEBKAFILE: Russia gearing up to be first world power to insert ground forces into Syria SEP 02, 2015by ADMIN in MIDDLE EAST & WORLD Despite strong denials from Moscow, Russian airborne troops are preparing to land in Syria to fight Islamic State forces. The surprise attack on Monday, Aug. 31, by ISIS forces on the Qadam district of southern Damascus, in which they took over parts of the district – and brought ISIS forces the closest that any Syrian anti-Assad group has ever been to the center of the Syrian capital – is expected to accelerate the Russian military intervention. Moscow is certainly not ready to endanger the position of President Bashar Assad or his rule in Damascus, and views it as a red line that cannot be crossed. If Russia intervenes militarily in this way, Russia will be the first country from outside the Middle East to send ground forces into the Syrian civil war.