Russia to Hold Mediterranean Drills amid Rising Tension over Idlib

Russia to Hold Mediterranean Drills amid Rising Tension over Idlib

Thursday, 30 August, 2018 - 11:15
Syrian rescuers clear the rubble in the morning of April 10, 2018, at the site of an explosion in Idlib. AFP photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Russia announced on Thursday major military drills in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions over the northern Syrian province of Idlib.

The Defense Ministry told Russian news agencies that Moscow will deploy 25 ships, including a missile cruiser, and 30 jets for the maneuvers in the first week of September.

The military said the drills will focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defense.

The ministry said Moscow has notified international organizations of the drills, which may make it dangerous for aircraft and ships to operate in the area.

The drills were announced after NATO reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean.

Russia has provided crucial military support for the regime of Bashar Assad, which is expected to mount an offensive in Idlib, the last major opposition stronghold in Syria.

The Kremlin on Thursday called Idlib a hotbed of terrorists and said not tackling the problem was not a good option.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments to reporters on a conference call while answering a question about the naval drills in the Mediterranean.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura called on Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday to forestall a battle in the province which would affect millions of civilians.

It would be better to set up humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians than rush into a battle which could turn prove to be a "perfect storm,” he told reporters in Geneva.

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