Russian warships may blockade Syria coast


MOSCOW: Russia may use its naval forces to establish a blockade along the Syrian coastline to facilitate the delivery of armaments into Syrian territory, a senior parliamentary official says.

Vladimir Komoyedov, who heads the Defense Committee of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament), said the vessels of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet would be used, during the potential mission, to bring in weaponry, Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency reported.

“Regarding the large-scale use of the Black Sea Fleet in this operation, I don’t think it will happen, but in terms of a coastal blockade, I think that it’s quite [possible],” he said, adding, “The delivery of artillery strikes hasn’t been excluded; the ships are ready for this, but there is no point in it for now. The terrorists are in deep, where the artillery cannot reach.”

Russia is currently running a naval facility in the western Syrian province of Tartus, which provides Moscow with access to the Mediterranean Sea. Four Russian warships, including a missile cruiser and a destroyer, are currently deployed in the eastern Mediterranean.

‘Russian volunteers’

Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency, meanwhile, quoted the Russian official as announcing that a contingent of Russian forces would “surely” join the Syrian military in the future in its fight against terrorist groups.

“Surely, a unit of Russian volunteers, combatants, will appear in the ranks of the Syrian army,” he said.

The developments come more than a week after Moscow began an aerial military campaign against the Daesh Takfiri militants and other terrorist groups in Syria upon a request from the Damascus government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the key objectives of Moscow’s air campaign in Syria is to preserve the Arab country’s territorial integrity.

Russian raids have drawn criticism from Western governments and their allies in the Middle East, which have been supporting the militants operating in the region.

Some members of a US-led coalition have been pounding purported Daesh positions inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a United Nations mandate since last September. The campaign has so far failed to dislodge the group. Agencies


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