by WorldTribune Staff, August 11, 2016
Moscow plans to upgrade its airbase outside the Syrian city of Latakia and turn it into a permanent military facility, a Russian defense official said.
The facility, Hmeimim airbase, currently houses warplanes used in Russia’s bombing campaign in support of long-time ally Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“After its legal status is agreed upon, Hmeimim will become a Russian military base. The appropriate infrastructure will be built and our servicemen will live in worthy conditions,” Frants Klintsevich, the deputy head of Russia’s senate committee for defense, told Izvestia newspaper on Aug. 11.
Klintsevich said that Russian may increase the number of warplanes at the base but ruled out the possibility that nuclear weapons or heavy bombers could be permanently based in Syria.
“Reconnaissance and fire support from the Russian air force allows the Syrian army to successfully complete the tasks at hand,” Klintsevich said. “Russia understands that if measures are not taken, the major terrorist threat will reach it too.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin requested earlier this week that parliament ratify an agreement made with Damascus last year to set up the base.
The Kremlin has in the past denied that it was building other military facilities in Syria.
Russia also operates a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus.