Russia’s drone operations appeared to be staged out of an air base near Latakia, where it has moved other heavy military equipment, beyond fixed-wing aircraft, including helicopter gunships, artillery, tanks and naval infantry forces, officials said.
Experts said the buildup is likely a prelude to military action.
Assad´s forces have stepped up air strikes in the past week, killing at least 38 IS jihadists in central Syria, especially Palmyra, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011. Russian Federation has insisted that its aim is to help Syria, a longtime ally, fight the Islamic State extremist group and has urged the West to coordinate its efforts with Assad’s government as well.
But few doubt Netanyahu’s conversation was about the dramatic build-up of Russian forces in Syria and Putin’s plans for the beleaguered country and its president, Bashar Al-Assad.
“There are 28 fighter and bomber aircraft at an airfield in the western Syrian province of Latakia“, one of the officials told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Twelve Su-24 Fencer and 12 Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack planes have been deployed in the base, where only four Flanker air-to-air fighters were present until the weekend, the New York Times reported, citing a senior United States of America official. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has also claimed that its military aid to Syria is aimed at fighting terrorism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting in Moscow on Monday.
But Russia’s intentions have been unclear in recent days as it deployed a range of new weaponry and troops to its airbase near Latakia.
Kerry said the United States was ready to immediately begin discussions on a political solution for Syria.
The two leaders reached an agreement on Monday during talks in Russian Federation, with Israeli media reporting that the discussions involved avoiding clashes between the two militaries’ jets over Syria.
“I think the Americans are much more receptive (now) of the arguments we have been presenting for several years now”, Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.
UN-led peace talks on Syria have failed to bring the opposing sides together to agree on a transitional government body that would take over from Mr Assad.