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Russia Denies Building Second Air Base In Syria

Russia has no plans to set up a second air base in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

The ministry's statement on January 25 followed news reports that Russia could be preparing to create another base in Qamishli in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey.

Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the military had no intention to set up any additional air base in Qamishli or advance airfields in Syria.

Russian warplanes have flown nearly 6,000 combat missions from the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia since Moscow launched its air campaign in September.

Konashenkov emphasized that Russian warplanes based at Hemeimeem can reach any location in Syria in a half-hour, so there is no need for any additional base.

The Russian air blitz has helped Syrian President Bashar Assad's army to launch offensives and seize some key areas from the opposition in recent weeks.

The recent gains have strengthened the Syrian government's hand before planned peace talks with the opposition, expected to start on January 29.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP