The Russian engineering corps has started building a new base in southeastern Syria at a small village called Khirbet Ras Al-Wa’r in the Bir al-Qasab district. Until now, Moscow adhered to a policy of restricting its military presence to the western part of the country along the Mediterranean coast; no Russian troops were based further east than Palmyra.
The new facility is the first to be established since Moscow’s initial military intervention in the Syrian war in September, 2015. DEBKAfile’s military sources say it will provide Russia with a lever of control over the volatile Syrian southeast and its borders, where US-backed and Iranian-backed forces are fighting for dominance. . Russian forces will also stand closer than ever before to the Israeli border - 85 kilometers from central Golan and 110 kilometers from southern Golan, not far from IDF military positions.
The new Russian foothold will be located strategically 96 kilometers from northern Jordan and 185 kilometers from the American and Jordanian special forces garrison at the al-Tanf crossing inside the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi border triangle.
Placing the new base just 50 kilometers from Damascus serves another primary function, that of securing the strategic crossroads leading from eastern and southern Syria to the capital - in other words, propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Our intelligence sources note that construction on the new Russian base began concurrently with the resumption his week of secret US-Russian talks in the Jordanian capital, Amman. They are led by Michael Ratney, the special US envoy for Syrian affairs and Aleksandr Lavrentiev, for Moscow. READ MORE