September 14, 2015 / 6:54 PM / in 2 years

Russia appears to continue support for Assad, U.S. says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia appears to be continuing its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with additional resources, the State Department said on Monday after two U.S. officials said Russia has positioned about a half dozen tanks at an airfield in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem (back to camera) attend a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

One of the U.S. officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said seven Russian T-90 tanks had been observed at the airfield near Latakia, an Assad stronghold.

Asked about the Russian military build-up, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “It certainly appears as though ... they are continuing to support - and perhaps even with additional assets - the Assad regime.”

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech

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