Russia is continuing to expand its interference in the war in Syria, with additional military base construction and deployment of more assets. Significantly, these assets now include those with anti-air capability. This development is another indication that fight against IS (which has no air force) is only a pretext, while Russia’s actual objective is protection of the Assad regime.
According to The Telegraph, Russia now has 500 troops, 28 warplanes (including 4 SU-27 fighters designed for air-to-air combat), 15 military helicopters and at least two batteries of SA-22 surface-to-air missiles deployed in Latakia, Tartus and the airport south of Latakia, while constructing additional military facilities nearby, in Al-Sanobar.
Russian deployment of anti-air capabilities could interfere with the activities of the anti-IS coalition led by United States, which conducts daily air operations in the Syrian airspace. Another issue is possible conflict with Israeli forces which periodically attack Syrian targets when they believe there is a threat of transfer of certain types of weapons to Hezbollah.
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