00:40 GMT25 November 2020
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    The Russian presence in Syria is limited to military specialists who are teaching Syrian soldiers how to use Russian-made armaments, according to experts.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The scale of the Russian presence in Syria is being significantly exaggerated by the Western media as it is limited to military specialists, military experts said.

    Earlier in September, Western media outlets, citing local sources, said that Russia had been stepping up its military presence in Syria by sending armaments and troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was providing considerable support to Syria in terms of equipment, weapons and training, to fight Islamic State (ISIL) and other jihadist groups.

    Experts told RIA Novosti that the Russian presence in Syria is limited to military specialists who are teaching Syrian soldiers how to use Russian-made armaments.

    Russian troops could not be sent to Syria without first receiving authorization from the relevant international bodies, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov asserted.

    “Until Russia receives official consent from the Syrian side and the United Nations, troops cannot be sent there… We [Russia] have several military personnel there [in Syria], but they are experts and specialists, not soldiers,” Sivkov told RIA Novosti.

    He added that the Russians were sent to Syria to deliver military hardware and to train Syrian soldiers in how to use this hardware.

    The Russian experts in Syria are just a formal presence in the country, Alexei Fenenko, a leading research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences' (RAS) Institute of International Security Studies.

    An Il-76td aircraft
    Press-service of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry
    He added that, going by the estimates quoted in the Western media, the forces Russia possesses in Syria could only serve limited purposes and would not be suitable for full-scale warfare.

    On Monday, The Financial Times newspaper reported about a forthcoming deployment of roughly 2,000 Russian military personnel to an airport in the western Syrian province of Latakia.

    The Russian servicemen are being deployed to the airport to help prepare it to receive deliveries from Russia, the military experts explained.

    “The airport in Latakia is a key point where Russian military transport planes carrying weaponry could land,” Chief Editor of the Russian National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti.

    An Airbus Defence and Space satellite image courtesy of Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence and advisory firm in Austin, Texas, shows at least 16 Russian combat aircraft stationed at the Bassel al Assad air base near the Syrian town of Latakia September 20, 2015
    © REUTERS / www.Stratfor.com/Airbus Defense and Space
    Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011 as the Syrian government forces of incumbent president Bashar Assad have been fighting opposition factions and extremist groups, including IS and the Nusra Front.

    In its efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, Russia hosted several rounds of intra-Syrian peace talks between the representatives of country's government and prominent opposition leaders.

    At the same time, a US-led coalition, bombing ISIL positions in Syria without approval from Damascus, has been urged by Moscow to join forces with the Syrian government to fight the jihadists. Washington has so far been reluctant to consider such an option, having pledged air support to anti-Assad rebels on the ground.


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