Russians moving artillery, ground forces to Hama, Syria

NBC News reports: A senior defense official has told NBC News that the Russian military has been moving artillery and ground forces towards Hama — one of the locations that the Russians targeted in the first 24 hours of their airstrikes.

“So much for fighting ISIS,” the defense official said.

U.S. officials have questioned whether Moscow’s airstrikes — in the name of defeating ISIS — were genuinely targeting the group or were instead a cover to shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad by bombing anti-government rebel groups. Russia defended its latest round of airstrikes in Syria amid mounting questions over their targets, insisting that Moscow’s planes had struck ISIS installations. [Continue reading…]

The Independent reports: Russia has built up a “substantial” military presence including ground troops in Syria, according to the Nato secretary-general.

Jens Stoltenberg told journalists that Vladimir Putin’s forces have not mainly been targeting Isis, but other opposition groups.

“I will not go into any specific numbers but I can confirm that we have seen the substantial build-up of Russian forces in Syria – air force, air defences but also ground troops in connection with the air base they have,” he continued. [Continue reading…]

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