Russia sends fighter jets into Syria

Russia sends fighter jets into Syria –

Skynews – US officials claim Russia has sent at least four fighter jets to Syria as it continues to bolster the embattled forces of Bashar al Assad.

Moscow had already sent troops and military hardware, including helicopter gunships, tanks and as many 500 Russian marines, to an airfield near the Syrian port city of Latakia, the US claims.

One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that four tactical Russian fighter jets have now been sent to Syria.

Another US official confirmed the presence of multiple jets, but declined to put a number on it.

It comes as Syrian goverment planes launched a second round of airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Palmyra, killing at least 26 people.

The ancient town was seized by the extremist group in May, with much of its Roman-era buildings reportedly now destroyed.

The latest Russian deployment adds significant airpower to the build-up, which has led to the first talks between US and Russian defence chiefs in more than a year.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, discussed ways to avoid accidental military interactions in Syria’s limited air space, where the US and its allies are carrying airstrikes against Islamic State.

A US defence official briefed on the 50-minute phone call told Reuters that Mr Shoigu described Russia’s military activities in the war-torn country as ‘designed to honour commitments made to the Syrian government’.

The Cold War foes have a common enemy in IS, also known as ISIL, in Syria – but the US opposes Russia’s support of Mr Assad.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Mr Carter and Mr Shoigu agreed to further discuss the ‘counter-ISIL campaign’.

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