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The New Arab Staff

Russia given green light to expand Syria airbase

Russia's Hmeimim base has been the launchpad for hundreds of Russian airstrikes [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2020

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Russia has been given approval to expand its airbase in Latakia province.
Russia has been given approval by Damascus to expand its airbase in Latakia province, which will give Moscow control over more Syrian land and waters.

An area of eight hectares of land and eight hectares of coastal waters will be granted to Russia, free of charge, close to its Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, Reuters reported.

The zone allocated to Russia will be used as a medical and rehabilitation centre for its air force, according to a government document signed on 21 July and which came into effect on the 30th.

Russia intervened in the Syria war in September 2015, launching air strikes in support of Bashar Al-Assad's regime, which had suffered a series of defeats to rebels.

Russia's intervention helped turn the tide of the war for the regime, but the air campaign has been devastating for Syria's civilian population with tens of thousands of people killed in bombing.

Hospitals, bakeries, and schools have also been destroyed in air strikes, while millions have been made homeless.

Russia was given a permanent military presence in Syria with the allocation and expansion of the Tartous naval base and Hmeimim airbase.

Russian troops and mercenaries have also taken part in the battle against rebel and jihadist groups in Syria.

Moscow has expanded its military presence in the Middle East in recent years including Libya, where a large contingent of Syrian fighters are also present.

More Russian forces have also moved into eastern Syria, where Moscow has been accused of trying to harness gas, oil and mineral supplies.

While a keen backer of the Syrian regime, Russia has also been accused of putting pressure on Assad to hold talks with the opposition.

There has also been increased critical press coverage of Assad in Russia, where media is often in-line with the government's views.

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