NBC News reports: Russia is sending armed troops to Syria amid escalating violence there, United States military officials told NBC News Friday, in a move certain to frustrate Western efforts to put pressure on the regime of President Bashir Assad.
Moscow has sent a ship carrying a small contingent of combat forces to guard Russia’s deep-water port and military base at the Syrian city of Tartus, the US officials said.
The U.S. officials also said Russia has not sent additional attack helicopters to the Syrian government, but replacement parts for the Russian helicopters the Syrians are already flying.
It comes after the conflict was declared by France on Wednesday to be a full-blown civil war.
The head of the U.N. observers in Syria said Friday a recent spike in bloodshed is derailing the mission to monitor and defuse more than a year of violence and could prompt the unarmed force to pull out.