President Putin deploys 25 WARSHIPS to MEDITERRANEAN amid fears of US attack on Syria

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said today the naval exercises will take place from September 1 to September 8.

A spokesman said 25 vessels and 30 planes would take part, the TASS news agency reported.

The ministry said the drills would involve carrying out anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-mining exercises.

The Kremlin confirmed the exercises today.

They said the planned drills were justified given the escalating situation in Syria’s Idlib province.

The drills come amid tensions between Russia and the West over Syria’s northern rebel-held region of Idlib.

A source said yesterday that Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was preparing a phased offensive there.

And US National Security Advisor John Bolton last week said Russia-backed Syrian military may be preparing for another chemical attack.

He said any attack would receive a “strong response” from the US, but added he had discussed the issue with Russian officials in direct talks.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Tuesday: “Any Russian and/or Syrian regime offence on Idlib and any kind of escalation in that area, we would hold them responsible and we would hold them accountable for that, most especially, for the use of chemical weapons.

“The United States has taken a very strong stance in the past when chemical weapons have been used. You all know that very well.

“We have engaged the Russian Government and also the military at the most senior level.”

In response to the threat, the UN today called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to forestall a battle in Idlib which would affect millions of civilians and could see both sides using chlorine as a chemical weapon.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters that there was a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 terrorists, but 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”.


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