By Aaron Klein
Amid reports of Russia scaling back military support for the Syrian regime, Moscow has responded to an Iranian request to re-establish assistance, with Russian experts traveling to Damascus to advise the embattled regime regarding strategy for counterattacks, informed Middle East defense officials told KleinOnline.
Last week, Asharq al Aswat, a popular Arabic language newspaper published in London, reported Russia was reducing its diplomatic staff in Damascus and removing advisers and strategic personnel.
According to the Arabic newspaper, Russian technicians also ceased upholding an agreement with Bashar al-Assad’s regime to help maintain the country’s fleet of Russian-made Sukhoi aircraft, which have been central to Syria’s war against the rebels seeking to depose the regime.
The reported Russian about-face comes as the rebels, including ISIS, have made dramatic gains, taking up to 50 percent of Syria’s territory.
Asharq al Aswat reported the Russian withdrawals had prompted an unscheduled visit to Iran by Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij, who was said to have petitioned Tehran to urge Russia to rescind its move.
Middle East defense officials told KleinOnline the Iranian appeal has worked, at least somewhat.
They say Russian military advisers are being resent to Syria to rebuild a common war room in the coming two to three weeks capable of advising on counter-attacks against the rebels.
The Russian advisers may find themselves working directly against the U.S. military.
On Tuesday, U.S. and allied forces conducted nine air strikes in Syria against ISIS militants acting near the Turkish border, the U.S. military said. Fourteen more air strikes targeted ISIS in Iraq.