WASHINGTON (AFP) - Russia has deployed four fighter jets to an airbase in Syria where it has been building up forces in recent weeks, alarming Washington, a US official said Friday.
The United States has expressed deep concern about Russia's moves to support Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad's regime, but has opened talks with Moscow on how their forces can avoid getting in each other's way.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed reports that four Russian jets had been seen on the ground at Latakia air base in western Syria, the heart of a Russian force build-up in the country.
Both Moscow and Washington say they want to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group in Syria but differ over how to treat Assad's regime, which Russia sees as a bulwark against the extremists.
The United States and its Arab allies blame Assad for triggering a civil war within his own country through persecuting Syrian civilians and thus creating the chaos that has allowed the ISIS revolt to flourish.