A US think tank says Russia has boosted its military presence in Syria to block and repel any possible military intervention by other countries against the central government in Damascus.
The Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence company, also known as Shadow CIA, recently published a brief analysis about the Russian military presence in the war-torn Arab country, claiming that downing the Russian Su-24 warplane over Syria by Turkish jets last November not only soured relations between Moscow and Ankara and locked them in a war of words but also gave “Russia a reason to build up its air defense capabilities in Syria.”
Russia noticed reports of possible direct military intervention by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, so it “enhanced its air defenses to prevent other countries from entering the Syrian conflict,” and “in mid-January reportedly began operating A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, which provide better situational awareness and bolster air responsiveness, over the country.”
The think tank added that Ankara and Riyadh had long sought to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, “but any attempt to unilaterally support the rebels with their own air assets would be met with significant Russian air defenses.”
The analysis, which is accompanied by some satellite images of a buildup of Russian air power at the Bassel al-Assad Airbase in the western Syrian province of Latakia, also claims that after the downing incident, Su-34 fighter jets were spotted carrying R-27 air-to-air missiles.
Moreover, advanced surface-to-air missile systems -- including Buk and S-400, four advanced Su-35 fighter jets, and newly-built Pantsyr-S2 combined air-defense missile-gun system -- were also added to the Russian arsenal in Syria.
The analysis concluded that Russia would be able to “obstruct the war efforts” made by those opposed to Assad, and even the US and its allies have a hard time targeting “loyalist forces advancing on rebel positions” since their operations would be “greatly hindered” by active Russian air support.
Upon a request from the Syrian government, Russia started conducting airstrikes against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group’s positions and those of other terrorist groups in Syria on September 30. Since then, the strikes have killed hundreds of Daesh terrorists and other foreign-backed militants and inflicted heavy material damage to them.
According to a new report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict, which began in March 2011, has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.