As the situation in Syria continues to devolve, Russia is sending military resources to the region to protect its assets, among other things.
Via The Times of Israel:
A flotilla of five Russian warships laden with hundreds of troops, which is headed toward Syria, is a show of force meant to deter Western armies from intervening in the war-torn nation, the London-based Sunday Times reported….
However, a Russian intelligence source was quoted on Sunday as saying that the presence of over 300 marines on the ships was meant as a deterrent to keep countries hostile to the Bashar Assad regime — a key ally of the Kremlin — from landing special forces in the country….
The British newspaper on Sunday quoted an Israeli source who said that it was conceivable that a Russian ground force would step in “to defend the Alawite corridor stretched between the Lebanese border in the south and the Turkish border in the north.” …
There has also been increasing indication that Israel and the US are mulling a military move in Syria to secure the country’s sizable stockpile of chemical weapons, which decision-makers fear could be turned against Israel, as well as on Syrian rebels, should Assad come to the conclusion that his days are numbered.
Meanwhile, Assad appears to be digging in:
The Syrian president used an hour-long speech in Damascus on Sunday to propose what he called a comprehensive plan that included an “expanded government”. But there was no sign he was prepared to step down as the first stage of a political transition – a demand of all opposition groups. “I will go one day, but the country remains,” he said.
The Syrian leader referred repeatedly to plots against his country and the role of al-Qaida, long-portrayed as the leading element in what began as a popular uprising in March 2011. Syria was not facing a revolution but a “gang of criminals”, he said.
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