Monday, June 18, 2012

Moscow sends two warships to its military base in Syria (Russian agency)

Russia is preparing to send two amphibious warships with sailors from the port of Tartus in Syria, only Russian naval base in the Mediterranean, a source said Monday in the General Staff of the Russian Navy, cited Interfax news agency.

"Two large landing ships, the Nikolai Filtchenkov Kounikov and Caesar, are preparing to leave for the Syrian port of Tartus," said an officer of the General Staff. Both ships will carry a "significant" group of sailors, according to Interfax.

This is a mission "extraordinary," the source said.

"If necessary, this mission will be capable of ensuring the security of Russian citizens and evacuate some of the equipment" in the Russian port of Tartous, she added.

Deputy Commander of Russian Air Force Vladimir Gradoussov, for his part said last weekend that planes were ready to protect warships if they were sent to Syria.

He said such an operation could be organized to evacuate Russian citizens from the conflict zone.

Russia, the main ally of Syria in which he has since the Soviet period a supply base in the port of Tartous, with China has blocked any condemnation of the crackdown in Syria.

Russia had also denied last week to be engaged in discussions with the West on political change in Syria that would involve the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

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