Moscow has dismissed U.S. concerns about a Russian military buildup in Syria, saying its military aid to President Bashar al-Assad was nothing out of the ordinary.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to express concern about reports of an "enhanced Russian buildup" in Syria.
"The Russian side has never concealed the fact that it is sending military equipment to the Syrian authorities to help them fight terrorism," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on September 7. "Lavrov confirmed that such aid has always been provided and is being provided."
A prominent Russian blogger known for his investigations into Russian military activity in Ukraine said Moscow is propping up Assad with a military buildup.
The blogger, Ruslan Leviyev, cited widely circulated footage from Syria apparently showing a Russian-made BTR-82A armored personnel carrier, as well as reports on social networks, that Russian paratroopers have been dispatched to Syria.