In the first concrete step to tighten his country’s “military grip” on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the defense and foreign ministries to hold talks on getting additional land and naval rights in Syria.
The new Russian decision comes after Putin’s recent decision to appoint Moscow’s ambassador in Damascus, Alexander Efimov, as his special envoy for developing bilateral relations between the two states.
The president’s instruction, posted on the government’s legal information web portal on Friday, said Putin instructed the two ministries to sign a protocol to the agreement with Damascus on deploying Moscow’s air task force that stipulates the transfer of additional facilities and water area to it.
Based on the protocol, Damascus will transfer more real estate and water territory to the Russian military.
The move comes a few days after the arrival of Russian military forces to the Fish Khabour crossing at the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border, which was considered an area controlled by the Americans.
Russia and Syria have inked a 49-year agreement on deploying the Russian air task force at the Hmeimim air base.
Separately, Turkey enhanced its military presence at several observation points in the northwest of Syria, two days after the killing of a Turkish soldier in the area.