Russia ‘reinforcing military presence off Syria’

Moscow is reinforcing its military presence in the Mediterranean near Syria, Russian media reports, as speculation grows that Damascus is planning a Russian-backed offensive on rebel-held Idlib province.

Moscow has accused rebels of planning to stage a chemical attack in the northwestern province that would “provoke” Western strikes on its ally Damascus.

Quoting anonymous sources, the Kommersant daily reports that Russia sent two warships and an additional anti-aircraft missile system to the Mediterranean in August.

Pro-Kremlin paper Izvestia says Russia currently has 10 warships and two submarines in Syrian waters, saying this amounted to Moscow’s biggest military presence there since it became involved in the conflict in 2015.

According to Izvestia, Russia plans to send “several more” warships to Syria.

— AFP

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