WASHINGTON, Sept 15 : Russia has sent artillery units and seven tanks to a Syrian air base as part of Moscow's continued military buildup in the war-ravaged nation, a US official said on Monday. The increase of Russian hardware in Syria has caused concerns in the West about the implications of Moscow militarily helping its old ally, President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the US official told AFP the seven T-90 tanks arrived in recent days but had not been sent outside the airbase near Latakia, on Syria's Mediterranean coast.
And the artillery, which arrived last week, appears to have been sent there to protect the facility. There was no indication Russia had sent fighter jets or helicopter gunships to Syria.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday strongly defended Moscow's military assistance to the Syrian government, saying it's impossible to defeat the Islamic State group without cooperating with Damascus. AP