When Western media outlets first started to report that the Russian military had arrived in Syria, the Russian government was quick to clarify the situation. Putin admitted that his nation’s military was providing equipment and training for Assad’s military, and left it at that. “To say we’re ready to do this today — so far it’s premature to talk about this. But we are already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons.”
Within the same day, anonymous intelligence agents with the US government revealed that the Russians were actually preparing to help Assad in a more direct way. They claimed that a new military base was being built in the port city of Lakatia, that would include an air traffic control tower and several prefab structures that could house over 1000 military personnel.
Nearly two weeks after we heard about these events, a defense official told Fox News that the Pentagon had tracked over a dozen Russian cargo flights, which were dumping a steady stream of military supplies into Syria. At least two of these flights included a shipment of tanks. The defense official added that “This is the largest deployment of Russian forces outside the former Soviet Union since the collapse of the USSR.”
Of course, no one can say for sure what is really going on. While none of this would be all that surprising considering Russia’s blanket support for the Assad regime, as well the Russian military’s appreciation for clandestine warfare, it’s hard to say whether or not these anonymous government sources are telling the truth, misinterpreting their intel, or are just blowing smoke.
However, the first real proof that Russia is up to something in Lakatia has finally arrived. Foreignpolicy.com recently purchased a satellite photo of the area, which seems to show what those anonymous officials have been talking about.
You can check out their website to see a larger photo, and a comparison with an older, Google maps image. Something is definitely being built there.
The satellite image shows far more than prefabricated housing and an air traffic control station. It shows extensive construction of what appears to be a military canton at Bassel al-Assad International Airport (named for Bashar’s elder brother, who died in a car accident in 1994). This canton appears designed to support Russian combat air operations from the base and may serve as a logistical hub for Russian combat forces.
In recent days, using aircraft tracking sites, a number of analysts have begun to document the near-daily arrival of Russian transport planes to the base. The Russians are also sending ships to Syria, though the ships often declare for a nearby non-Syrian port, like Port Said in Egypt, and then take a wrong turn at Albuquerque, so to speak.
If there’s one thing we can learn from Russia’s growing presence in Syria, it’s that they’re no longer content to simply fight our proxy forces with theirs. As time goes on, they seem to be stepping up their game, as they take a more direct interest in the conflict. And with that, the potential for a real war between Russia and the US, grows a little more.
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .