Russia to conduct naval drills in east Mediterranean

Drills to include three Russian warships with combat exercises; Russia claims drills scheduled since 2013

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Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it will conduct naval drills in the east Mediterranean in September and October.

According to the Defense Ministry, the naval drills will reportedly include three warships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet: the Saratov landing ship, Smetlivy destroyer and Moskva guided missile cruiser. The ministry claims that the drills have been scheduled since 2013, and reported that the drills will include over “40 combat exercises that will include rocket and artillery fire at sea and airborne targets.”

The announcement comes just days after satellite footage was taken of two additional military bases currently being constructed on the coast of Syria. Russia is reportedly constructing a weapons depot and military facility north of Latakia.

In early September, Russia deployed jet fighters in Syria and began constructing a base for military personnel. Reports claim as many as 1,000 Russian troops are expected to arrive in Syria in the coming weeks.

Syrian officials reported that Syria received Russian warplanes and “sophisticated missiles” this week, Syrian Ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad, stating that Russia and Syria are at a “high level of cooperation” and that “Russia’s help will help Syria finally win over terrorist groups.”