August 31, 2015
If reports coming from YNet News are accurate, the Syrian crisis just became more complex and more dangerous. The report would be great news for the Assad government, however, as it suggests that, in addition to providing Syria with six new MIG 31 jets and providing satellite images with the SAA, the Russians will also be delivering an expeditionary force of Russian soldiers.
YNet claims that the Russian force will be made up of fighter pilots, attack helicopter pilots, advisors, technicians, logistics personnel, instructors, and members of the aerial protection division. The forces are to be stationed at a permanent base in Syria. Although the Russians already maintain the Port of Tartus, YNet suggests that the new base of operations will be an “Assad-controlled” location in an area surrounding Damascus.
YNet refers to the alleged Russian base as “Forward-Operating Base” and has estimated the number of Russian personnel scheduled to enter Syria as being in the “thousands.”
What A Russian Force Would Mean For Assad
If we are able to work on the assumption that the YNet report is accurate, a Russian “expeditionary force” would be a major shot in the arm for the Assad government, even if this force is only operating on the periphery of the conflict. The provision of the MIG-31 jet aircraft was extremely important in terms of technical capabilities for the Syrian government’s necessity to bomb ISIS held territory while avoiding relatively sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons provided to the terrorists by the West. It was also because of what it meant in terms of international relations and the stance of the Russian government in the context of the Syrian crisis. Essentially, it was a clear statement that “Russia stands with Syria.”