An official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, claims Iran was somewhat surprised that Russia has decided to flood Syria with military reinforcements, and the government is concerned about the nation’s expansion.
“There are concerns in Iran that Russia intends to leave us behind and become the key to finding a solution for Syria in co-operation with the US,” explained one regime official, according to Financial Times.
IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review obtained satellite photos that show “Russian forces developing two additional facilities” on Syria’s coast “at a weapons storage facility and a military base north of Latakia.” Editor Rob Munks believes the Kremlin plans to deploy troops at the locations. From Reuters:
Jane’s, a defense intelligence provider, acquired the images from a commercial satellite division of Airbus Group SE, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the imagery.
Munks told Reuters one of the sites was located about 4 miles (7 km) north of Latakia and the second was 2 miles (3 km) west of that. The images showed construction of new buildings and grading of terrain, as well as the presence of new tents typically used by Russian military units.
One of the facilities is adjacent to a surface-to-air missile site, Munks added.
CNN reported the Russian government now has “25 fighter and attack aircraft, 15 helicopters, nine tanks, three surface-to-air missile systems and at least 500 personnel on the ground in Syria.”
“Russia is seeking to stabilise its position in the Middle East,” continued the official. “But Iran will not be led by Russia if this is what they are seeking.”
Al-Monitor reports that Iranian authorities “welcomed the move by Russia.” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein-Amir Abdollahian traveled to Moscow this week to discuss the war in Syria. He told the media both sides “will use their full potential to end the crisis in Syria.” The discussions will continue through next week at the UN General Assembly in New York. Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim also spoke about Russia:
Safavi said, “The great powers should know that in West Asia Iran is the key to the solution and Iran marks the changes and transformations in Western Asia. Iran guarantees the security of energy in the region. The West completely understands Iran’s dominant geopolitical weight in the region and they want to have an economic and political relationship with Iran.”
He added, “The US failure to become the sole superpower of the world, the US failures in reaching its goals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and subsequently the declining political, economic and military power of America in the world and Western Asia and active presence of Russia in the political-military scene of Western Asia, especially in Syria, are some of the most important changes.”
Safavi continued, “The cooperation between Iran and Russia in confronting the for-hire terrorists that the Americans and other Western countries with the money of some Arab countries have unleashed on the region is one of the other important changes in the region.”
Secretary of State John Kerry claims the Russian government is sending more troops and equipment to Syria in order to protect the Russian soldiers already in the country—a form of self-defense.
“It is the judgment of our military and most experts that the level and type represents basically force protection,” Kerry told reporters.
Kerry admitted the government does not know what Russia hopes to achieve in Syria, but said Moscow and the U.S. want to eliminate radical Islamic groups like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Russians make up the majority of foreign fighters outside of the Middle East battling ISIS.
Syrian rebel groups insisted Russia’s intervention “will only lead to an escalation of the war.” They also begged their allies to send them more military aid.
“It is in our calculations that the battle will now extend for more years than it would have without the Russians,” declared rebel fighter Abu Yousef al-Mouajer.