TEHRAN – Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a number of fast attack jets, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and artillery pieces to Syria, according to Iranian news agency Al-Alam.
New satellite figures have shown a number of Su-24 and Su30Sm fighters, Mi-24 helicopters and T-90 main battle tanks at Syria International Airport in the government-controlled coastal city of Latakia.
In addition to the advanced military hardware, satellite imagery has shown the construction of new buildings around the possibly to support the deployment of Russian forces on the ground.
According to AllSource Analysis, the Russians have deployed at least six T-90 main battle tanks; 15 artillery pieces, and 35 armoured personnel carriers.
The satellite imagery also suggests that new prefabricated buildings to house up to 500 personnel have been built on the site.
In addition to the advanced attack jets, Il-76 and An-124 cargo planes have been ferrying in equipment several times a day.
Igor Korotchenko, editor of the National Defence Magazine confirmed that Russia was building up its forces in the area providing ‘all the necessary weapons for fighting the ISIS terrorist group’.
Among the equipment deployed to Syria is the T-90 Main Battle Tank, the battle tank is equipped with a 125mm tank gun and an anti-aircraft machine gun.
Uralvagonzavod chief Oleg Sienko told Rossiyskaya Gazeta government newspaper on Friday that Russia recently tested the modernised T-90SM model in ‘an Arab country’ and plans to export it to the region.
He confirmed older T-72 tanks are being ‘successfully used by the Syrian army in urban warfare against the ISIS militants’.
Moscow also delivered ‘multiple rocket launchers, heavy flamethrowers, and munitions’ to the army, Korotchenko said.These systems are ‘effective’ in Syria, he added.
Smerch – which means ‘whirlwind’ – is a heavy multiple rocket launcher developed in the 1980s, a larger 300 mm calibre upgrade of the Grad system that is also being used in Syria.
Russia’s aircraft contracts with Syria before the conflict included MiG fighter planes and reports suggested a new contract was in the works in 2013.
Recent deliveries to Syria have included Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-25 planes, called Fencer and Frogfoot by NATO.
The Su-24 is popular with both air-to-air and air-to-ground capacity.It has been used by Syria’s airforce throughout the conflict.
Syria’s officials this week announced that the military is using Russian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), without specifying the model or how they are being used.
Syria has admitted it has received sophisticated new arms from Russia, including warplanes, and deployed them against jihadists, amid signs Moscow is readying a direct role in its ally’s war.