MOSCOW – The Russian military has no plans to set up another airbase in Syria, the Defense Ministry said Monday.
The ministry’s statement followed media reports saying that Russia could be preparing to create another base in Qamishli in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey.
The ministry’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said that the military has no intention to set up any additional airbase in Qamishli or advance airfields in Syria.
Russian warplanes have flown nearly 6,000 combat missions since Moscow launched its air campaign in Syria on Sept. 30. The Russian warplanes are based at Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia.
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 strengthened the Syrian government’s hand before planned talks with the opposition, expected to start Friday.
Russia’s air campaign has continued at full swing as the talks approached.
Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff said that Russian warplanes have been flying between 70 and 100 missions a day in the past few days to support the Syrian army’s offensive.
Rudskoi said that long-range Tu-22M3 bombers flying from Russian territory have joined the warplanes based in Syria in the last three days.
He said those bombers had performed 18 missions in the area of Deir el-Zour, a government-controlled city in northern Syria that has been besieged by militants.
President Vladimir Putin has said that the Russian air campaign in Syria will last for as long as it’s necessary to support the Syrian army’s offensive.
During a meeting with students on a visit to Stavropol in southern Russia, he said Moscow’s goal is to help Damascus defeat “terrorists.”
“We have no intention to meddle in the state structure, in solving problems faced by Syria and other countries of the region,” he said, addressing a Syrian student. “Our only task is to help your people, help the legitimate leadership … of Syria to combat terrorism, to liquidate terrorists on Syrian soil.”