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Russia Sends Armaments To Syrian Military Base


U.S. Intelligence says Russia is sending tanks and other armor to Syria, possibly in an effort to shore up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. official says the new reports are troubling. Until now, there was only evidence that Russia was building housing and a new base on Syria's Mediterranean coast. NPR's Tom Bowman reports.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: The Russian armaments and equipment began arriving at the base by ship and plane in the last few days. So far, they include at least a half-dozen tanks, a U.S. official tells NPR. Other Russian arms include at least three dozen armored personnel carriers and more than a dozen towed artillery. This is the first evidence of weaponry at the base of Latakia where construction of base housing is underway for as many as 1,500 personnel.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been pressing Russia to help end Syria's civil war and come up with a transitional government. But officials worry that the new Russian moves are an effort to prop up the Syrian regime which has pulled back in the face of advances by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Here's State Department spokesman John Kirby.


JOHN KIRBY: These are questions that should be posed to Moscow - exactly what their goal here is in the long run. It certainly appears as though they are continuing to support, and perhaps even with additional assets, the Assad regime.

BOWMAN: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said over the weekend that the armaments will continue to flow into Syria along with Russian technicians who will train Syrian personnel how to use the weapons. Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.
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