Kremlin: It’s no secret that Russia sends arms and advisors to Syria – Los Angeles Times

Iran opened its airspace to Russian military planes flying into Syria after the denial of overflight permission by NATO countries in the region, a Russian diplomat in Tehran told the Tass news agency Wednesday.

The move by Iran allows Russia to continue flying humanitarian aid to Syria, one senior Foreign Ministry official said, and another noted that Russia “has never made a secret” of its arms sales and military collaboration with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The airspace dispute and Moscow’s claim of unabashed alliance with the embattled Assad were the latest developments after the Obama administration’s accusations last week that Russia appeared to be expanding its military presence in Syria and may be preparing to send troops to back Assad.

U.S. intelligence sources last week told the Los Angeles Times and other media that recent satellite imagery shows a significant buildup of Russian arms and equipment in Syria’s Latakia province, Assad’s ancestral home.

Russia has been a loyal ally of the Syrian president throughout the 4 1/2-year civil war and the seizure of huge areas of Syria by Islamic State extremists.

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday to warn that any military buildup on Assad’s behalf risks more protracted fighting and bloodshed in the country from which more than 4 million have fled.

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