In a sign the Russians are planning to be in Syria for a while and hints at further military buildup in the country, the BBC is reporting that the US believes Russia has plans to set up a base in Syria based on their activities in the coastal city of Latakia. Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis was quoted by the BBC as saying on Monday, “We have seen indications in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia and the air base there that suggests that it intends to establish some sort of a forward air operating base.”
However, despite the potential air base plans, so far Russian planes haven’t caused any issues with those of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria. The reason? They aren’t there—right now anyway.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, in comments posted to the Pentagon website, said on Tuesday that there aren’t any discussions about avoiding conflict with Russian planes because “we’re not seeing those flights at this moment in time and we’re not talking about hypotheticals at this point.”
Cook reiterated American concern about Russian military involvement in Syria, but refused to go into specific intelligence about what the Russians have there now. The BBC reported that the US worries that if the Russians increase their support for the Bashar al-Assad regime when it is struggling, that will push off a peaceful resolution to that nation’s bloody civil war.
“There will be a political solution and we are encouraging, again, the Russians to consider that in their efforts in Syria as well,” the Pentagon website quoted Cook as telling reporters.
“Anything that can be done to promote that political resolution, we think would be important and we do not think further military support for the Assad regime is constructive to that effort. In fact, it’s counterproductive.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 15, 2015)