Russia complains of ‘strange hysteria’ over its presence in Syria
Russia’s foreign ministry has complained of a “strange hysteria” over Moscow’s actions in Syria, as western countries expressed concerns over apparent preparations for military intervention.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “Russia has never made a secret of its military-technical cooperation with Syria” and confirmed that “Russian military specialists are in Syria to help them master the weapons being supplied”. She said there was nothing out of the ordinary about their presence.
However, there have been a number of signs of more intensive Russian activity in Syria in recent weeks, including reported sightings of Russian jets and combat vehicles, claims of increased weapons deliveries, and even reports that prefabricated housing was being erected to pave the way for a major military presence.
A number of photographs have been posted to social media networks from Tartus in eastern Syria by men who appear to be Russian contract soldiers.
The Tartus naval base, which Russia has maintained since the 1970s, was previously a small and low-significance maintenance outpost, but has seen increased activity recently.
The reports of growing Russian military activity in Syria were troubling, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday. “I am concerned about reports about increased Russian military presence in Syria,” Stoltenberg said. “That will not contribute to solving the conflict.”
Russia has insisted there is nothing out of the ordinary about the military assistance to the country, and Syrian government officials have also been playing down recent reports about an enhanced Russian military role, but insisting that Moscow remains a supportive ally.
“Russian experts are always present but in the last year they have been present to a greater degree,” a Syrian official told Reuters. “All aspects of the relationship are currently being developed, including the military one.”
For More: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/09/russia-complains-of-strange-hysteria-over-its-presence-in-syria