The expansion near the Mediterranean coast is the latest sign Russia is preparing to inject its military forces into the country’s 4½-year war, creating new challenges for the U.S.-led coalition trying to force President Bashar al-Assad from power and defeat Islamic State militants.
Until recently, the Russian buildup in Syria was largely focused on an air base south of the port city of Latakia. Moscow has shipped more than two dozen combat aircraft to the airfield, where Russian surveillance drones have started flying, according to U.S. defense officials. Russia has also sent tanks, air-defense systems, armored-personnel carriers and enough housing for 2,000 people, officials have said.
Now, satellite images from IHS Jane’s, a defense-intelligence provider, show an additional, previously undisclosed, Russian military expansion.
The images, which Jane’s acquired from a commercial satellite division of Airbus Group, show construction of new buildings, the presence of new tents typically used by Russian military units and significant development of the grounds, Mr. Munks said.
Nature abhors a vacuum, but Putin just loves one.