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Russian navy begins largest post-Soviet exercise in waters near Syria

Special to WorldTribune.com

MOSCOW — Russia has launched naval exercises in the Mediterranean.

The Defense Ministry said Russia began its largest naval exercise in
more than 20 years in the Mediterranean.

At least eight warships from Russia’s Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets were taking part in maneuvers in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, the Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said the navy was conducting more than 60 exercises in the Mediterranean as well as the Black Seas.

“They are being staged in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013
combat training plan and focus on interoperability of task forces from
several fleets while on a mission in a far-off maritime zone,” the ministry said.

In a statement on Jan. 19, the ministry said the exercises would
continue through Jan. 29. The statement cited live fire operations as well as anti-submarine warfare missions.

Officials said the exercises in the Mediterranean could include a marine landing. They said naval ships would probably dock in the Syrian port of Tartous.

“Some of the exercises are expected to be carried out in the eastern
part of the Mediterranean, and, possibly close to the territorial waters of
Syria, where rebels have recently stepped up their attacks on Army
installations in their determined drive to oust President Bashar Assad,” the
RIA-Novosti news agency said.

“The Russian Navy keeps a naval re-supply and
maintenance base in the Syrian port of Tartous to support its operations in
the Mediterranean.”

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