A report in the Kuwaiti daily al-Rai has claimed that Russia has sent ground troops into the Syrian battlefield as part of its offensive against Isis (Islamic State) and to back up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Russian troops are providing protection for T-90 tanks that Russian military has put in place as part of its offensive. However, the Jerusalem Post, which cited the Kuwaiti daily on the deployment of the Russian troops, has said that the report is yet to be substantiated by other sources.
According to reports, it is not clear whether the reported presence of Russian ground troops is part of a major strategic shift by Russia in terms of its military involvement in the region or a one-off operation.
Russian tanks have been sighted by US observers at the Syrian airfield of Latakia where the Russian build-up is taking place but this is the first time that a report has emerged of Russian ground troops on the scene. At least seven Russian T-90 tanks have been tracked at Latakia, according to US sources.
According to the report in the Kuwaiti daily, the Russian ground forces have taken over several strategic positions and driven back Isis or other Syrian rebel forces.
The report of the presence of Russian ground troops becomes significant in the wake of the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkish interceptors on Tuesday.
Other stakeholders in the Syrian civil war are worried that the Russian entry into the sphere and its burgeoning presence in the air and in the Mediterranean may prove to be a game changer with unforseen consequences.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have stated earlier that his country had no intention of putting Russian soldiers on the ground in Syria, said the Jerusalem Post.