Cuba, one of the oldest allies of Russia, reportedly has sent 2,000 of its soldiers to drive Syrian battle tanks for fighting the Isis terror group, reports claim. According to Israel military intelligence website - DEBKAfile, the presence of the soldiers from the Cuban armoured corps units has "perpetuated" Tel Aviv, which fear that Russia would follow on the steps of the former USSR.
In 1973, USSR flew in two Cuban tank brigades to Syria and deployed them opposite Israel Defense Forces (IDF) positions on Mt. Hermon and other parts of the conflicted region around Golan Heights for almost four months.
A Fox News report last week claimed that Cuban paramilitary and special forces units have been spotted in Syria. The report noted that the development came mere days after General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, head of Cuba's Armed Forces, visited Syria.
It is widely believed that the Cuban troops were training in Russia and arrived in Syria recently on Russian planes.
Jaime Suchlicki, executive director of University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) told FoxNews that an Arab officer at the Damascus airport saw two Russian planes arrive there with Cuban military personnel.
The officer reportedly was told by the Cuban soldiers that they were there to assist Syrian president Bashar al-Assad because they are experts in operating Russian tanks.
While it is not exactly clear if the Cuban soldiers will be deployed to fight a battle or whether they will be tasked with guarding the Russian base in Latakia, their presence certainly will strengthen the Russian position in Syria.
According to The New York Times, Moscow has deployed half a dozen T-90 battle tanks in Syrian airfields. Seven T-90s are currently defensively positioned in Latakia but that can change as Russia continues to fly more equipment and personnel into the country, Reuters reports.