As speculation mounts about the level of cooperation between Russia, Iran, and Assad's Syria, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said Friday that he welcomes the Kremlin's direct intervention in the Syrian Civil War.
In an interview given to the Al-Manar TV network, Nasrallah stated that this development was highly significant and would affect the entire campaign. He also claimed that additional Russian forces are soon to arrive in Syria.
Concern has risen in Israel about the increasing Russian presence in the region, particularly that Russian military activity could hamper IDF actions on the northern border.
Hezbollah, Syria, and foreign media outlets have over the last three years claimed that the Israeli Air Force had bombed targets in Syria and near the Syria-Lebanon border, including weapons caches meant for Hezbollah. A significant Russian presence could complicate any such efforts.
"We welcome any power that comes in and helps this front, because this participation will help drive away the great dangers threatening Syria and the whole region," said Nasrallah.
The Hezbollah chief gave the impression throughout the interview that he was well-acquainted with the details of the Russian buildup in Syria. He added that there is "very advanced Russian weaponry" in Syria, including fighter jets, missiles, rocket launchers and heavy equipment.
Nasrallah also claimed it was very possible that Russian troops would soon be fighting in Syrian territory. "The Syrians haven't requested this up to now," he said, "but it could happen". The Russian intervention was, said Nasrallah, carefully planned for months and included coordination with Iran and Iraq. With characteristic bombast, he said that the Russian intervention "proves what we said years ago, when people thought Syria would collapse: We said then that Assad's allies would not abandon him."
Russia has in recent weeks significantly built up its forces in Syria, and has also increased weapons supplies to Syria.
Satellite images published this week showed that Russia has begun building two new military facilities. According to reports, the existing Russian base already contains nearly 30 fighter planes.
Washington has been cautious about Moscow's support for Assad. US Secretary of State John Kerry argued this week that supporting Assad would merely prolong the war and draw more forces who oppose the Syrian president, whose power has seriously deteriorated.