Sep 19, 2015
Russia sends fighter jets to Syria
US Secretary and Russian Defense Minister agreed to "further discuss mechanisms for deconfliction in Syria".
Shoygu told Carter that the recent Russian military buildup in Syria is "defensive in nature" and aimed at supporting Russian obligations to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The U.S. policy is that Assad, a close ally of Moscow, must leave office in order to resolve the years-long civil war, and U.S. officials have warily watched Russia's military support of the Syrian regime.
However, with U.S. aircraft also operating in the country as America roots out ISIS, it is important that the two powers coordinate their military presence to avoid accidental encounters.
An intelligence official called the Russian buildup in Syria "significant" and said it would represent "the first major expeditionary force deployment" outside the former Soviet space that Moscow has undertaken since the war in Afghanistan.
Reports indicate the military buildup in Syria could consist of combat aircraft that are capable of striking ground targets, providing close air support and intercepting aircraft, and small numbers of main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers to transport troops to the battlefield.
Moscow's ultimate intentions are unclear, but initial signs suggest a focus on providing air support to Syrian forces and to humanitarian relief operations. The U.S. also expects Russia to send a small presence of ground forces to support these operations.