28 jet fighters and ground attack aircrafts, secretly moved to an airfield in the Syrian province of Latakia, might be deployed in the airstrikes, writes the publication.
According to the intelligence reports, twelve Su-24 ground attack aircrafts, twelve Su-25 fighters and four Su-30 fighters have been stationed in Syria. The newspaper’s sources in Washington claim that the aircrafts arrived in Syria with their transponders (devices used to track their location) turned off. Accompanied by An-124 transport aircrafts, the jets used commercial air corridors over Iran and Iraq.
"The jets are ready to launch strikes at any time. Currently, there are no obstacles for that," said a source within the US intelligence.
This week, Russian reconnaissance planes have begun flying over the rebel-held positions in north western Syria, writes the Los Angeles Times. Russian drones have been seen flying on a daily basis over Latakia and Hama, provinces controlled by Assad's army, and the province of Idlib, much of which is in the hands of the insurgents.
According to the US publication, 16 helicopters, nine T-90 tanks and artillery pieces have been flown in to the province of Latakia. An air traffic control tower and mobile housing units for up to 2,000 personnel have also been installed near the airfield.
On September 24, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued a statement saying that the newest Russian aircrafts were deployed to launch strikes on positions held by the Islamic State rebels. On the same day, Bloomberg reported Moscow’s plans to launch bomb raids on the rebel-held positions without securing the consent of the US-led international coalition. The Kremlin declined to comment on sending its military personnel to Syria.
On September 22, French medias reported Russian combat planes having been delivered to Syria.
On September 21, militants of the Free Syrian Army published a video on YouTube allegedly taken in the province of Homs and showing an IL-76 military transport aircraft (probably a modification of an IL-78 tanker aircraft) accompanied by four Su-24 bombers painted with a color scheme typical of the Russian Air Force.
Since the start of a civil war in Syria in 2011, more than 230 thousand people have been killed and nearly 11.5 million, which is more than a half of the country’s population, forced to flee their homes.
According to the rebels, they are fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.