Russia sends four more warships to eastern Mediterranean near Syria
A Russian warship sails through the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 5, 2013.
The Russian navy has sent four more ships to the eastern Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, as the United States considers launching a military offensive against the Arab country.
The SSV-201 Priazovye reconnaissance ship, escorted by two landing ships, Minsk and Novocherkassk, had already passed through Turkey's Bosphorus Strait, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted a source from the Saint Petersburg-based central naval command as saying on Friday.
A third landing ship was just making a short stop to lift “special cargo” in Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, the report added without elaborating on the cargo.
"The ship will make call in Novorossiysk, where it will take on board special cargo and set off for the designated area of its combat duty in the eastern Mediterranean," the source said.
The news agency added that Moscow will also send destroyer Smetlivy to the eastern Mediterranean soon.
Russia’s anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev, the Neustrashimyy-class frigate and three landing ships, the Alexander Shabalin, the Admiral Nevelsky, and the Peresvet, are already in the eastern Mediterranean, the report revealed.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hosted a G20 summit in St. Petersburg, said on Friday that Moscow will help Syria if it comes under attack.
“Will we help Syria? We will. We are already helping, we’re sending arms [and] cooperating in the economic sphere,” Putin stated.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian president said that a great majority of the world leaders gathered in St. Petersburg opposed unilateral military offensive against Syria.
“I can tell you who favored military action. It is the US, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia and France, while the British prime minister’s support for the US was not shared by his citizens,” Putin said. “Now, who were categorically against: Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Italy.”
Last week, the British parliament voted against military intervention in the Arab state despite calls by Prime Minister David Cameron.
On Tuesday, Putin said Moscow has its own plans to deal with the possible US war on Syria.
"We have our own ideas about what we would do and how we would do it if the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise," he said. "We have our plans, but it's too early to talk about them."
The war rhetoric against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.
Damascus has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the chemical attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation.
On August 31, US President Barack Obama said he has decided that Washington must take military action against the Syrian government, which would mean a unilateral military strike without a UN mandate.
Obama said that despite having made up his mind, he will take the case to US Congress. But he added that he is prepared to order military action against the Syrian government at any time.
On Wednesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 in favor of a resolution authorizing the Obama administration to attack Syria.
The resolution would limit military action against Syria to a period of 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension. It also bans the use of US ground troops.
Obama administration officials have embarked upon an extensive lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill, where US lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are expected to vote on a military action against Syria after they return from recess on September 9.