Russia, US encounter in Syria

(VOVworld) – The US and the West have repeatedly accused Russia of building a military base in Syria. Russia has admitted for the first time that it has never concealed its military built-up in Syria which will increase the likelihood of encounters with the US. 

Russia, US encounter in Syria - ảnh 1
Russian transport aircraft have been arriving at Latakia airport (AP)

On September 15, the US criticized Russia for deploying several tanks to Syria to help fight IS. Before that the Pentagon confirmed satellite images showing 7 giant Russian Condor transport aircraft using the air corridor over Iraq and Iran to send supplies to Syria. Russia has sent a half dozen T-90 tanks, 15 self-propelled heavy artillery pieces, thirty-five infantry fighting vehicles along with about 200 marines to an airport near Latakia city, the stronghold of President Bashar Al-Assad. US officials said these moves indicate a Russian military build-up in Syria.

A new break in US, Russia relations

Although the US has urged Syria’s neighbors, including Iran and Iraq, not to allow Russia to use their airspace, the request seems to have been ignored. Russia’s transport aircraft landed safely in Syria and unloaded 80 tons of humanitarian aid for a local refugee camp. Despite the US’s criticism, Russia said its military support for Syria is a regular activity, part of a bilateral agreement signed several years ago. The Syrian government rejected the US’s accusations as complete fabrication.

Russia has maintained a military presence in Syria for years. In 1971 Russia leased a small naval facility in the port city of Tartus, Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean. Early this year Syrian President Assad said Russia might upgrade its military base in Tartus, which alarmed the US and the West. 

Russia has been the closest friend of the Assad administration during the turbulence over the last 4 years. Providing Syria with military aid to fight IS is an extension of Russia and Syria’s long-term cooperation. But the US thinks that any support for the Assad administration could increase instability and that Russia’s activities are preparation for a broader military campaign under the pretext of fighting IS.

Can a Russia-led coalition against IS be formed?

Russia and the US have wide differences over the Syrian issue. While Russia backs the Syrian government and is providing it with weapons, the US intends to depose President Assad. After 4 years the war in Syria shows no sign of ending. The US and the West have failed to topple President Assad despite economic sanctions, airstrikes, and training support for the opposition.

Since it began in 2011, the fighting in Syria has killed at least 240,000 people. The West’s efforts to defeat President Assad have been the root of the largest migration since WWII. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes.

At the recent Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia proposed a new coalition against IS to replace the US-led coalition. The Russia-led coalition would consist of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Russia’s recent military aid to Syria is a preparation for this plan.

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