“The secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operating in Syria,” the US State Department said.
Quoting Obama-administration sources, the New York Times said Russia has sent a military advance team and a portable air traffic control station to Syria.
It also sent enough prefabricated housing units for 1,000 troops to the airfield that serves Latakia, Syria’s largest port.
Russia has also requested the right to fly over neighbouring countries with military cargo aircraft during September, the paper added.
Russia was on the verge of deploying “thousands” of troops to Syria to establish an airbase from which the Russian air force would fly combat sorties against Isil.
Those details appear to be backed by satellite images of a Russian base under construction near Latakia, according to anonymous intelligence officials quoted by several American newspapers.
“If they’re moving people in to help the Syrian government fight their own fight, that’s one thing,” one told the Los Angeles Times. “But if they’re moving in ground forces and dropping bombs on populated areas, that’s an entirely different matter.”