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Bashar al-Assad requests more Russian bases and troops in Syria 



Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has requested a greater Russian presence in Syria as he tries to adjust (like every leader and jihad group in the Middle East) to a new balance of power as America declines under Biden. Turkey has been heavily present in Syria, and ties between Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been strained. Assad refuses to meet with Erdogan until “Turkey was ready to completely withdraw its military from northern Syria and restore the situation that existed before the Syrian war.” In other words, Assad wants Turkey to end its occupation.

Ties between Russia and Turkey have also been strained, and have worsened over the last couple weeks after “34 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike in Idlib, the deadliest attack on the Turkish army in nearly 30 years.” Syrian forces were believed responsible, but several sources in Idlib blamed the Russian Air Force.

A big shift is happening in the Middle East, and Russia is filling the gap left by the U.S. “Putin has long sought to reconcile Assad and Erdogan as a means to stabilize Syria and counter both US and Iranian influence there.”

With Russia increasing its presence in Syria, Israel needs to be ever more careful in balancing its own interests in evaluating the determined efforts of Ukraine’s Zelensky to gain its active support.

“Syria’s Assad would like more Russian bases and troops,” by Guy Faulconbridge and Caleb Davis, Reuters, March 16, 2023:

MOSCOW, March 16 (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said on Thursday that he would welcome any Russian proposals to set up new military bases and boost troop numbers in the Middle Eastern country, suggesting Russia’s military presence there should become permanent.

When Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War in 2015, it helped tip the balance in Assad’s favour, ensuring the Syrian leader’s survival despite Western demands that he be toppled.

Assad, who met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Wednesday, has supported Russia’s war in Ukraine and told Russia’s state news agency RIA that Damascus recognises the territories claimed by Russia in Ukraine.

Syria, Assad said, would welcome any Russian proposals to set up new military bases and boost Russian troop numbers – and said they need not be temporary.

“We think that expanding the Russian presence in Syria is a good thing,” Assad told RIA in an interview. “Russia’s military presence in any country should not be based on anything temporary.”

“We believe that if Russia has the desire to expand bases or increase their number, it is a technical or logistical issue.”

Assad’s years as president have been defined by the conflict that began in 2011 with peaceful protests before spiralling into a multi-sided conflict that has fractured the Middle Eastern country and drawn in foreign friends and enemies.

He has stitched much of his state back together with the help of Russia and Iran, aided by the fact that his allies were always more committed to his survival than his enemies were to his defeat.

Alongside the Hmeimim air base, from which Russia launches air strikes in support of Assad, Moscow also controls the Tartus naval facility in Syria, its only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, in use since the days of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s defence ministry said in January that Russia and Syria had restored the al-Jarrah military air base in Syria’s north to be jointly used. The small base east of Aleppo was recaptured from Islamic State fighters in 2017….