Russia set to deploy troops to Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday filed a request to the upper house of parliament for approval to deploy the Russian army abroad, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

The announcement is an indication that Putin plans to send troops to Syria to back the overstretched forces of President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally in a four-year war against rebels and jihadists seeking to end al-Assad’s rule.

A spokesman for Putin revealed this month that the president was considering sending troops to Syria, and the US government said it was monitoring a Russian military build-up at an airport near the major Syrian port city of Latakia.

Russia said it is sending weapons to al-Assad to help his government fight terrorist groups like the Islamic State, which controls large areas in Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Russia has shrugged off US concerns of its troops in the conflict, saying, “Russian military specialists have been in Syria for many years to help with Russian-made equipment’’.

According to UN reports, a quarter of a million people have died in the conflict, and more than 22.4 million are internally displaced or fled abroad. (dpa/NAN)