U.S. officials say Russia has moved fighter jets to Syria as part of a growing military force in the country, fueling concern in Washington about Moscow’s potential direct involvement in Syria's civil war.
The officials told Reuters and The Wall Street Journal on September 18 that Russia has moved at least four tactical fighter jets to an airfield near Syria's Mediterranian port of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Other reports said Russia has sent at least four attack helicopters and some transport helicopters to the airfield during the previous 24 hours -- bolstering earlier deployments of Russian helicopters made since September 4.
Three Russian navy amphibious assault ships also have crossed through the Bosphorus Strait from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea in recent days.
The reports came on the same day that the defense chiefs of Russia and the United States spoke for the first time in more than a year to discuss the conflict in Syria.