Sep 6, 2015

Russia seeking airspace clearance for military flights into Syria

US intelligence has captured evidence of a significant escalation of Russia's military engagement in Syria's civil war, including satellite images of an apparent Russian base for staging troops and heavy equipment under construction near a port city that is a stronghold for Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say.
The reconnaissance photos of possible military housing being built near the international airport in Latakia province provides strong evidence of deepening involvement by President Vladimir Putin's government in the four-year-old Syrian war, according to the officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
In addition, the Russians have asked at least one country bordering Syria for a window of time to fly a detachment of warplanes over its territory and into Syria, the officials said. The officials would not name the country, but Turkey lies between Russia and Syria.
U.S. officials have not come to a firm conclusion about Russia's military intentions in Syria. But they fear Moscow will help Assad's forces attack the government's opponents, some of whom the U.S. backs. The increased Russian involvement could extend Assad's hold on power and further prolong a civil war that has pitted shifting alliances of dozens of armed factions, including the Islamic State militant group, against the government in Damascus.

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