Syria; Russians double their number of military bases, more attack aircraft

CPkuGpbWEAAAx1j.jpg largeRussian President Vladimir Putin has long been accused of attempting to resurrect the long dead Russian Empire. If the former KGB Lt. Col.’s moves in the war-torn nation of Syria are any indication of his real intentions, the accusations may be true.

As reported by Jethro Mullen of CNN on Sept. 23, 2015, and also by The Washington Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff on Sept. 22, 2015, the reports from earlier this month citing Russia’s revamping of their aged and decrepit naval base at Tartus as well as the seemingly overnight construction of a forward airbase at the northern Syrian coastal town of Jableh are already outdated. As previously covered by on Sept. 19, 2015, the number of Russian military personnel physically on the ground has increased by 400 percent from the initial 100 Russian Naval Infantry (Marines) to “at least” 500 as of just a few short days ago.

While the massive Russian Condor transport aircraft have been making regular deliveries of equipment and men to the Jableh air station, the boys from Moscow have added two more bases in the north-westernmost province of Latakia. Separated by just 1 mile, one new facility located outside the small town of al-Sanobar is just a short walk to the Istamo weapons storage complex. Both bases are roughly a mere 13 miles from the booming Jableh airstrip.

Recently released satellite photos show new tentage and at least double the amount of combat vehicles at the al-Sanobar base. Meanwhile at the Istamo weapons facility, acres worth of paving and grading have been completed as well as new permanent buildings springing up.

Not only have personnel and equipment increased. The total number of advanced weapons platforms include:

  • Four Su-30SM multirole combat aircraft
  • Twelve Su-25 ground attack aircraft
  • Twelve Su-24M attack fighters
  • Fifteen attack helicopters
  • Nine advanced T-90 tanks
  • Three surface-to-air missile systems
  • An undisclosed number of already active surveillance drones

Also previously covered by earlier this month, Russian MiG-31 long-range strategic attack fighter craft are currently stationed at the Mezza Syrian Air Force base near Damascus to reportedly provide air support to the combined Russian-Iranian forces if and when needed. with a low altitude speed of Mach 1.2 (930 mph), flight time from Mezza to the Russian coastal bases is literally just a few minutes.

Also flexing their naval muscle, the size of a World War One battleship, the massive Russian nuclear submarine, the RFS Dmitri Donskoy (TK-20), is also steaming just off shore as a show of force to the various Syrian rebels militias, Islamic State (ISIS), and the al-Nusra Front. While none of the insurgent groups have a navy for the Donskoy to take on, their military facilities and troop concentrations would be the figurative easy pickings for the sub’s compliment of cruise missiles.