While most in the American media have essentially turned a blind eye to the Russians flexing their military muscle in Syria, even the handful that have acknowledged the Russian build-up as little more that the expansion of a fairly obscure airstrip on the Syrian coast. And with that expansion comes a handful of Russian Marines for base security and a handful of air defense missiles.Yet the latest from the Middle East is that the Russians have hit the ground with the most offensive weapons since morning breath and body odor.
As reported by Lucas Tomlinson of Fox News on Sept. 14, 2015, the Pentagon has verified that a total of 15 Russian Antonov-124 Condor flights into Syria, reflecting a steady stream of military cargo into the rapidly expanding Russian airbase at the coastal town of Jableh. And while the word has already been on the streets of Russian ships unloading mysterious “military equipment” days ago, now the public knows what that cargo is, albeit from an anonymous source.
Citing an unnamed source within the Department of Defense, Tomlinson was informed of a half-dozen third-generation T-90 main battle tanks; 15 fresh artillery pieces; 35 armored personnel carriers, similar to the U.S. Army’s Bradley fighting vehicles; and an yet to be released number of additional Russian Marines. Citing the same anonymous defense official, Russian offensive operations could launch from Jableh “very soon.” Officially, the Pentagon’s spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis displayed a flair for the obvious when he told reporters that the Russian activities “suggest the establishment of a forward air operating base.”
Previously reported by the Associated Press reporter Sarah El-Deeb on Sept. 13, 2015 (via KBMT-TV of Beaumont, Texas), the Russian airbase in Jableh may see the small contingency of Russian Naval Infantry (Marines) soon earning their pay. As El-Deeb notes, the base has already come under artillery and mortar fire from Islamic jihadist forces to the immediate east.
Also reported by Johnlee Varghese of the International Business Times (India edition) late last week, a mixed force of approximately 1,000 Iranian Marines and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps are within a figurative stone’s throw from the roughly 100 Russian Naval Infantry (Marines) who recently touched down in the war-torn nation. As Varghese reported, the Iranian are to join forces with the Russians in combat operations with Assad’s Syrian National Army against the numerous Islamic jihad groups occupying huge swaths of the nation.
The Russians reportedly has already deployed advanced S-300 air defense missile systems at the Jablah base. Follow-on troops from the Russian Marine Brigades 810 and 336 will also be assigned to the Jableh airbase. In today’s report from Fox News, Tomlinson added that American satellite photos have picked up that construction on the airbase’s additional housing units have been completed. Acording to the Pentagon, it possible for the Russians to house up to 1,500 combat troops.