Syria’s information minister denied on Tuesday reports of a Russian military buildup in his country, saying there were no Russian combat forces fighting alongside the army against mainly Islamist insurgents. Omran al-Zoubi said the reports were “concocted in Western intelligence circles” to show the army was too weak without help from its foreign
ally, and as a pretext for further support for rebels from countries who want President Bashar al-Assad ousted. “There are no Russian forces and there is no Russian military action on Syrian territory neither by land, by sea or by air,” Zoubi told Lebanese militant group Hezbollah’s Manar television station. “All of this is to insinuate the Syrian state is weak and that the Syrian military has weakened to the point of resorting to the aid of friends in a direct manner”.