The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday denied reports that Moscow is planning to establish a new airbase in the Syrian province of El-Kamashli, emphasizing that Russia's current base in Latakia is within range of all possible targets operating in the shattered Arab republic.
"There are no 'new' airbases or additional 'pop-up' airfields for Russian military aircraft on the territory of Syria and there are no plans to build them," Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the TASS news agency.
Since Russia's intervention in the Syrian conflict over three months ago, several reports have surfaced in the Russian and international media that Russia might expand its presence beyond the lone Syrian government-held airbase in Latakia from which it currently launches operations.
However, the Defense Ministry has repeatedly denied such reports as useless speculation by "armchair strategists," since the Russian air group stationed in Syria can hit targets anywhere in the country already — eliminating the need to build another base.
The latest reports were published by British newspaper The Times, which reported that Russia and the United States, which is also operating in Syria against radical extremists, are building new airbases about 50 kilometers from each other in northeast Syria.