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Iran claim: China to send 12 warships to join Russian fleet at major Syria exercise

Special to WorldTribune.com

NICOSIA — Syria is preparing to host its largest military exercise amid the widening of the Sunni revolt.

On June 18, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency provided details of
the exercise, expected to begin in July. Fars, quoting “informed
sources,” said 90,000 soldiers from China, Iran, Russia and Syria would
participate in the land and sea exercise.

China is said to be sending a fleet of warships to Syria for a July military exercise.

China intends to send 12 warships through the Suez Canal for the
Syrian-based exercise. Fars said the Chinese fleet was expected to arrive in Syria by early July.

“Ground, air and sea forces as well as air defense and missile units of
the four countries will take part in the exercises,” Fars said.

Russia and Iran plan to deploy aircraft carriers, destroyers and
submarines for the July exercise. Fars said the land and air stages of the maneuvers would include 400 combat aircraft and 1,000 main battle tanks.

Officials said this would mark the largest military maneuvers in the Middle East and overshadow Eager Lion-2012, the U.S.-sponsored exercise in Jordan earlier this month.

The regime of President Bashar Assad has been arranging a multinational
exercise meant to deter foreign military intervention. Officials said the
exercise would include the navies of China, Iran and Russia.

“The exercise will mark the largest demonstration by Syria’s allies
against military intervention,” an official said.

“Syria plans to test its coast-to-sea and air defense missiles in the
war games,” Fars said.

The Russian Navy has been sending warships to Syria as part of exercises
in the Mediterranean. On June 19, the Russian Navy said the amphibious
landing ship, Caesar Kunikov, left the Black Sea port of Sevastopol for an
exercise in an unspecified location.

The Assad regime as well as Moscow have not confirmed the international
exercise. Fars quoted an unidentified Syrian official as saying the Assad
regime was informed of the exercise in early June.

“This information is out of synch with reality,” Assad spokeswoman
Buseina Shaaban said on June 19. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

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