Russia Confirms Military Buildup in Syria

Reversing its earlier denials, the Russian foreign ministry has confirmed the country is sending both technical advisors and equipment to the besieged government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as it struggles to fend off rebels seeking his ouster in the country’s civil war. Russia is supplying weapons for the Syrian armed forces “for the purpose of countering terrorist threats that have reached insurmountable sizes in Syria and neighboring Iraq,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova declared Sept. 9? via the state-run Sputnik news wire. Zakharova also confirmed Russian military specialists and technicians are currently deployed to Syria in order to train Syrians in the use of the military equipment, and reiterated the foreign ministry’s stance that Russia has consistently supplied equipment to the Syrian government as it combats “terrorism” and “extremist groups,” according to Sputnik‘s report from Moscow. The White House said it is “concerned” by reports Russia is sending additional military personnel and equipment. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Sept. 8 that a Russian military buildup to aid the Assad regime would be “unconscionable.” Any expansion of military aid could escalate the conflict and lead to greater loss of life. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve officials have raised concerns about possible deconfliction issues with potential Russian combat flights over Syria.