A member of Russia’s special police, OMON, sits on an armored vehicle during a drill in the southern Russian city of Stavropol on May 30, 2008  Russia has confirmed sending special forces troops to Syria over the past few weeks to support its mission backing the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.  “The special forces were pulled out of Ukraine and sent to Syria,“ a Russian Ministry of Defense official told the WSJ. The anonymous official seemed to explicitly admit to a Russian military presence in the Ukraine, something which the Kremlin has fiercely denied.

The Russian official added that the special forces, who are “akin to a Delta Force,” the elite special forces unit in the US military, had been operating in pro-Russian rebel held areas of Ukraine before being called off to Syria. The special forces group will join the Zaslon unit, which is currently protecting diplomatic assets in Syria. The increase in ground forces will likely help coordinate air strikes which mainly target US-backed anti-Assad rebels.  FULL REPORT