- 'Aggressive and highly trained' units set for seek-and-destroy operations
- Spetsnaz conducted revenge missions against jihadis during Chechen war
- Comes as NATO yesterday called on Russia to stop air strikes in Syria
- See our full coverage of the conflict in Syria
By Simon Tomlinson for MailOnline
Published: 02:38 EST, 6 October 2015 | Updated: 06:11 EST, 6 October 2015
Russia has sent fearsome teams of special forces into Syria to help prop up President Bashar Al Assad, it has been reported.
Vladimir Putin's crack Spetsnaz units are said to be preparing a ground assault on rebels fighting the Syrian President – most of whom are backed by the West.
They have been ordered to wipe out opponents 'by any means'.
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Jihadi hunters: Russia has despatched a crack team of Spetsnaz special forces (seen above in Dagestan) to Syria to wipe out rebels fighting President Bashar Al Assad 'by any means'
Fearsome: Russian Spetsnaz troops hunt for rebels during the Chechen war in 2002. Vladimir Putin's crack units are said to be preparing a ground assault on rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad
A source told The Daily Mirror's Chris Hughes: 'Putin's marines are there to guard the airbases they are using against sabotage by rebels.
'But Spetsnaz and air-assault troops are not there to provide security to static objects, they are extremely aggressive and highly trained.
'They are there to mop up after air strikes, call in air strikes, go on extremely covert missions against rebels and ultimately wipe them out.'
Spetsnaz – joined by the 7th Air Assault Mountain Division – have a terrifying reputation, built in recent years while conducting seek-and-destroy missions against jihadis who committed atrocities against Russian troops in Chechnya.
The source said the units will ensure Russia consolidates its position in the Middle East and will not be as accountable as British or U.S. special forces.
Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft at the Hmeymim airbase. Russian warplanes have been flying over Syrian territory since Wednesday, conducting strikes on what Moscow says are targets belonging to ISIS
It came as NATO yesterday called on Russia to stop air strikes in Syria and warned its violation of Turkish airspace during a raid risked inflaming tensions in the region.
Turkey also warned Moscow over further incursions after its F-16 jets intercepted a Russian fighter that flew through its airspace near the Syrian border at the weekend.
Two Turkish jets were also harassed by an unidentified MIG-29 on the Syrian border according to Turkey's army, which has the second-largest number of troops in NATO after the US.
'Our rules of engagement are clear whoever violates our airspace,' Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
'The Turkish Armed Forces are clearly instructed. Even if it is a flying bird, it will be intercepted,' he added, while playing down the idea of 'a Turkey-Russia crisis'.
Russian warplanes have been flying over Syrian territory since Wednesday, conducting air strikes on what Moscow says are targets belonging to Islamic State jihadists in the country's northern and central provinces.
Attacking Syria: Footage published by the Russian Defence Ministry on Monday shows an aerial view of a strike allegedly carried out by Russian warplanes against ISIS on Sunday
The West has accused Moscow of using the raids as cover to hit moderate opponents of Russian ally President Assad.
After holding an emergency meeting of its 28 member states, Western military alliance NATO called on Russia to 'immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians'.
It also warned against violating Turkey's airspace, saying in a statement after the meeting that the allies 'note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour.'
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the incident had risked provoking a serious escalation.
'We're greatly concerned about it because it is precisely the kind of thing that had Turkey responded under its rights could have resulted in a shoot-down,' he said.
Russia later played down the incursion, saying one of its aircraft had briefly entered Turkish airspace as a result of 'unfavourable weather conditions'.
'There is no need to look for some conspiracy theories,' a defence ministry statement said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3261560/Now-Russia-sends-special-forces-prop-Assad-Putin-s-fearsome-Spetsnaz-units-preparing-ground-assault-wipe-rebels-fighting-Syrian-President.html#ixzz3noQSUpoJ
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