In this Dec. 4, 2016 file photo, Russian soldiers stand next to an aid convoy in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
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As the threat of Western military action against the Syrian regime looms, Russia has already deployed thousands of troops in the war-torn country to back President Bashar Assad.Here is what you need to know about the Russian army's presence in Syria.How many troops?The precise number of Russian troops fighting in Syria is not known.Putin said in December that some 48,000 Russian servicemen have taken part in the campaign.He has ruled out dispatching ground troops in Syria, making the air force the mainstay of Moscow's Syria campaign.Independent Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer estimated late last year that "up to a thousand" military police and special forces are fighting alongside regime troops.
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