Sept. 2, 2015
- Russia Puts Boots on the Ground in Syria – Michael Weiss
On Aug. 22, the Bosphorus Naval News website showed the Russian ship Nikolai Filchenkov with military equipment visible on deck – KamAZ trucks and at least four BTR infantry fighting vehicles. On Aug. 24, the Oryx Blog discovered at least one BTR-82A in the coastal province of Latakia, which has lately been contested, impressively, by a collection of Islamist rebels groups. Assad’s National Defense Force disclosed the fighting vehicle in action in a news video from the Latakia front. The report also captured unmistakable Russian spoken in the background in instructions to the crew, compelling evidence that Russians have embedded with the Syrian military.
On Aug. 12, the opposition-linked website Syria Net reported that a Russian “militia” was now situated in Salfana in Latakia. “The Russian crew is tasked with overseeing the project to organize defensive lines in a professional manner and are equipped with modern equipment to detect and monitor progress of opposition forces if any villages are attacked in rural Latakia.” On Aug. 26, the pro-Assad newspaper Al-Watan reported that Russia is now providing satellite imagery to the regime. (Daily Beast)
ISIS Inches Deeper into Damascus (Al Jazeera)
Islamic State fighterson Monday battled Syrian rebel forces in Asali, a southern district of Damascus, bringing ISIS within 5 km. of the center of the capital.
“This is the closest ISIS has ever been to the heart of Damascus,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.