Two Russian planes loaded with 80tons of humanitarian aid landed in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia on Saturday as Moscow continues to increase its engagement in the Syrian war with foreign minister Sergey Lavrov acknowledging that they have sent weapons to President Assad’s army and help in their training.
Western countries have criticized Russia’s actions and Gulfnews reported that the Obama administration and the US intelligence community disagree on the approach to undertake despite concluding that Russia is set to start flying combat missions from a new air base inside Syria.
Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the humanitarian package included needs for more than 1,000 internally displaced people but Kremlin added that materials other than that was also part of it without giving further details.
On Friday, Obama described Russia’s action as “a big mistake” as Assad gets desperate but Lavrov argued in Moscow on Saturday that it provides military support to Damascus because “the Syrian army is the most efficient and powerful ground force to fight the Islamic State” which cannot be defeated with airstrikes only. Moscow could also be considering ground operation after Lavrov stated that “it’s necessary to cooperate with ground troops.” He stressed that Russian servicemen and military experts are in Syria to service and help in the use of Russia-made military hardware. He added that the supplies will continue in order to assure that the Syrian government is in “proper combat readiness in its fight against terrorism.”
There are reports that the U.S is considering collaborating with Russia in fighting terrorism.
Meanwhile, Moscow and Damascus are preparing to hold military exercises between the Syrian port of Tartus and Cyprus probably by the beginning of the week.