The Guardian - Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “Russia has never made a secret of its military-technical cooperation with Syria” and confirmed that “Russian military specialists are in Syria to help them master the weapons being supplied”. She said there was nothing out of the ordinary about their presence.
However, there have been a number of signs of more intensive Russian activity in Syria in recent weeks, including reported sightings of Russian jets and combat vehicles, claims of increased weapons deliveries, and even reports that prefabricated housing was being erected to pave the way for a major military presence.
A number of photographs have been posted to social media networks from Tartus in eastern Syria by men who appear to be Russian contract soldiers.
The Tartus naval base, which Russia has maintained since the 1970s, was previously a small and low-significance maintenance outpost, but has seen increased activity recently.