Stratfor had recently reported that Russia plans on expanding its second military airbase in Syria by sending in more air assets there. This new base is expected to be located towards the southeast of Homs at Shaayrat military base. Russia plans on doing all of this from a location where they can easily launch air strikes as well as house their military helicopters.
The Current Situation
The Shaayrat base is nearing its completion as it prepares to become a military base of Russia. Moscow is not on the verge of constructing new runways at Shaayrat airport along with reinforcing all the surroundings so that the airport can be used for operations as soon as possible. Currently, the country carries air strikes for the base located in northwestern Syria. With a second airbase located at a central position, Moscow will have a better ability for strikes towards the south and east of Syria so that the Syrian troops can be supported.
According to a Kuwaiti report, it has been claimed that Russia plans to increase their Syrian aircraft numbers to more than 100 in the future so that they can carry out better operations to support certain group forces in the region. This expansion could also be indicative of the fact that Moscow wants to put a greater pressure to the anti-ISIS coalition lead by the United States. It could also be that Russia is extremely interested in fighting off ISIS.
Moscow is currently making use of Shaayrat for conducting operations in eastern Syria against ISIS. The Russian helicopters have been aiding the Syria forces to move against Palmyra, a town held by ISIS. Also, if Russia is really successful in building its second airbase in Shaayrat, then Moscow would get much greater flexibility to conduct operations within Syria. And while Moscow has been using their base in Syria to target ISIS, the new airbase, will most likely provoke tensions over Syria internationally on a much larger scale.
The new airbase would also be beneficial to Russia in terms of allowing it to carry out its operations against Turkish, gulf, and US supported anti Assad and non-ISIS militants near Damascus. The Institute for the Study of War has indicated that the Russian target of ISIS has been reactive so far and this is usually followed with ISIS advancing towards their territory and bases. In contrast to this, the rebel-held territory targeted by Russia is a lot pro-active. This is where air strikes have been targeting the elements of anti-regimen in the areas in which militants have not been giving threats that they wish to gain the territory at the expense of the regimen.
Overall, the situation in Syria still needs to be resolved and in the meantime, Russia keeps strategizing to gain a comprehensive advantage with its airbases in the region. We can only now wait and see what Stratfor has to report in the future.