Russia Positioning Tanks at Syria Airfield

Russia Positioning Tanks at Syria AirfieldRussia Positioning Tanks at Syria Airfield

Russia has positioned about half a dozen tanks at an airfield at the center of a military buildup in Syria, two US officials said on Monday.

The Pentagon declined to directly comment on the report, saying it could not discuss US intelligence. But a US Defense Department spokesman said recent actions by Moscow suggested plans to establish a forward air operating base.

“We have seen movement of people and things that would indicate that they plan to use that base there, south of Latakia, as a forward air operating base,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told a news briefing.

One of the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said seven Russian T-90 tanks had been observed at the airfield near Latakia.

The two US officials said Russia had also stationed artillery that appeared to be arrayed defensively to protect Russian personnel stationed there.

A diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Russians were working to improve the airfield.”It appears the runway is not suited to some types of aircraft yet and they have been doing some improvements,” the diplomat said.

Russia has said it will continue providing military supplies to Syria and that its assistance to the Syrian army is in line with international law.