Russia has delivered new arms including warplanes to Syria as the regime increases attacks on jihadists, officials said Tuesday, in a sign that Moscow’s growing support for its ally is having an effect.
Russia has delivered new arms including warplanes to Syria as the regime increases attacks on jihadists, officials said Tuesday, in a sign that Moscow's growing support for its ally is having an effect.
A senior Syrian military official told AFP Damascus had received a fresh batch of arms, including at least five fighter planes, while a monitoring group said there had been a marked increase in regime attacks on the Islamic State group.
The deliveries came amid a rapid Russian military build-up in Syria, with US officials saying Moscow had deployed 28 new combat planes and begun drone flights in the country.
Syria's devastating four-year conflict has taken on a new dimension in recent days as Moscow has moved to boost its military presence in the country, raising deep concerns in Washington.
The Syrian military official told AFP the new fighter planes had arrived on Friday along with reconnaissance aircraft at a military base in Latakia province, the traditional heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The regime had also received "sophisticated military equipment to fight IS" including targeting equipment and precision-guided missiles, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The new weapons had already been deployed against IS in the cities of Deir Ezzor and Raqa, the jihadist group's de facto capital in Syria.
"Russian weapons are starting to have an effect in Syria," the official said.
Moreover, Russia has started flying surveillance missions with drone aircraft in Syria, two US officials said on Monday, in what appeared to be Moscow's first military air operations in Syria since staging a rapid buildup at an airfield there.
The US officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, could not say how many drone aircraft were involved in the surveillance missions. The Pentagon declined to comment.