Russia has launched its largest naval exercises in decades in the Mediterranean and Black Seas near the territorial waters of Syria amid the ongoing crisis in the Arab country. The drills “are held in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013 combat training plan and focus on interoperability of task forces from several fleets while on a mission in a far-off maritime zone,” said an official statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday. The maneuvers will continue until January 29 and comprise more than 60 drills, including anti-submarine warfare missions, missile and artillery firing practices. Russia’s Black Sea, Northern and Baltic fleets, strategic bombers, tactical aircraft, air defense units, paratroopers and naval infantry will take part in the naval exercises. The task forces have four large landing ships and a variety of auxiliary vessels in their composition which enable the Russian forces to carry out simulated beach landing and convoy escort missions.
Some of naval maneuvers are expected to be conducted in the eastern part of the Mediterranean near the territorial waters of Syria where foreign-backed terrorists have stepped up their campaign against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.Russia has criticized the Western countries’ support for the terrorists in the Arab country. Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence. ASH/MA