Russian forces appear to be expanding their military presence in Syria through the development of two additional bases, according to new satellite imagery viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The expansion near Syria’s Mediterranean coast is the latest sign Russia is preparing to inject its military forces into the country’s chaotic civil war, creating new challenges for the U.S.-led coalition trying to force President Bashar al-Assad from power and defeat Islamic State militants.
Until recently, the Russian buildup in Syria was largely focused on an air base south of the port city of Latakia. Moscow has shipped more than two dozen combat aircraft to the airfield, where Russian surveillance drones have started flying, according to U.S. defense officials. Russia has also sent tanks, air-defense systems, armored-personnel carriers and enough housing for 2,000 people, officials have said.
Now, satellite images from IHS Jane’s, a defense-intelligence provider, show an additional, previously undisclosed, Russian military expansion.
The images from mid-September show development of a weapons depot and military facility north of Latakia, suggesting that Russia is preparing to place troops in both places, according to Robert Munks, editor of IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review.