AROUND half a dozen Russian tanks have been stationed at a Syrian airfield, US sources claim.
By Cyrus Engineer
It is said that Russia has ordered the construction of a huge 1,000 personnel compound to support Syria’s leader.
Earlier this month Russian jets were seen flying in Syrian airspace fuelling speculation Vladimir Putin was preparing to launch strikes against Islamic State terror targets.
Western diplomatic sources have claimed Russia is ready to send “thousands” of troops into war-ravaged Syria.
“If they’re moving people in to help the Syrian government fight their own fight, that’s one thing, one told the Los Angeles Times.
“But if they’re moving in ground forces and dropping bombs on populated areas, that’s an entirely different matter.”
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And White House spokesman Josh Earnest added: “We are aware of reports that Russia may have deployed military personnel and aircraft to Syria, and we are monitoring those reports quite closely.
“Any military support to the Assad regime for any purpose, whether it’s in the form of military personnel, aircraft supplies, weapons, or funding, is both destabilising and counterproductive.”
Mr Putin has previously admitted aiding the Syrian regime.
“We are already giving quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons,” he said.
“There are other terrorists involved in other plots that may come to fruition over the next few weeks and months and we wouldn’t hesitate to take similar action again,” he said.
“It’s extremely dangerous because these are attacks that have been and are being planned against major public events on our streets.
“They are potentially attacks on members of our armed forces and on others, which would be extremely dangerous and would obviously involve the loss of life.
“Government has a duty, where it has information and the ability to prevent such attacks, government has a duty to deal with it.”
The Syrian civil war, in which about 250,000 people have died, has caused nearly half of Syria’s pre-war 23 million-strong population to flee, with many thousands attempting to reach Europe.