While Russia already has military facilities in northwestern Syria, in the Latakia Province, the Russian military is believed to be doing some preliminary scouting in northeastern Syria’s Hasakeh Province, with an eye toward setting up a separate airfield in that area.
US officials are saying Russia has dispatched personnel to an airfield in Qamishli and are believed to be trying to figure out if they want that site. Qamishli is extremely close to Turkey, and US officials seem to believe the Turks will object to Russia taking the base.
The reports of Russian interest in having an airfield in Hasakeh comes amid reports that the US has already taken over such a base in nearby Rmeilan, and is busily widening the runway for US military aircraft. The US speculation, then, is likely focused on the prospect of the Russians turning up awfully close to their new base.
It’s not surprising, however, as Russia has been backing the same Kurdish faction in the area that the US has, and has arguably a lot more use for a base in that part of Syria, since unlike the US they don’t have the option of using a base inside Turkey itself for flights into eastern Syria.