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Russian military personnel spotted atop tank in Latakia

A Russian-speaking advisor or soldier appeared in a video uploaded […]

20 September 2015

A Russian-speaking advisor or soldier appeared in a video uploaded to a Russian-language YouTube account on Tuesday of tank maneuvers in the eastern Latakia countryside, another indicator of Moscow’s military buildup in support of the embattled Syrian regime.

“Russia’s doing something new, above-and-beyond supplying us with weapons, and that’s sharing in the fight against the Islamic State and Jabhat a-Nusra,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told Russia Today on Friday.

“[Russia joining the fight] is something essential–it will turn the tables on those who have conspired against Syria,” he added.

Last week’s video captured a Russian-speaking adviser or soldier atop a T-54 tank, clutching Russia’s latest upgrade to the AK-74M assault rifle. A second tank, meters to his left, then fired against a mountain outpost reportedly manned by the Victory Army rebel coalition, led in part by al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate Jabhat a-Nusra.

Although the Russian did not fire his weapon, his appearance in a reported battle corroborates recent reports of Russian military personnel directing or participating in ground combat in Syria. In a video uploaded to YouTube in late August, the shouts of the Russian-speaking crew of a BTR-82A infantry-fighting vehicle echo over the din of battle against rebels nearby.

In addition to video evidence of Russian military personnel supporting Syrian army combat operations, recent satellite imagery confirms the arrival of four Russian Navy Su-30SM fighters to Latakia’s Bassel al-Assad International airport. 

– Photo courtesy of Kristina Volkova.

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