Russian naval vessels armed with Kalibr cruise missiles will patrol off the coast of Syria, where Moscow is supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in order to ward off terrorist threats, President Vladimir Putin said.
“This year … due to the continuing terrorist threat in Syria, our ships equipped with cruise missiles will patrol the Mediterranean on a continuous basis,” Putin said during a meeting with military leaders in the southern Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday, May 16.
Putin added that 102 surface ship and submarine voyages are scheduled for the year, Tass reported.
“As the risk of attacks by international terrorists in Syria remains our ships armed with cruise missiles will be permanently on duty in the Mediterranean,” he said.
Russia has been involved in Syria’s civil war since September 2015. Its military support of the regime changed the course of the war, allowing government troops to retake more than half the country from rebels and Islamic State.
Putin praised the “precise and well-coordinated actions of Russian ships and submarines during the Syria operation and the cruise missile strikes … which inflicted considerable losses on the terrorists” operating in Syria.
He urged special attention to coordinated operations by the Aerospace Force and other units of the Armed Forces, Tass said.
In Syria, Russia has a naval base located in Tartus and an air base at Hmeimim. In December, the upper house of the Russian parliament voted to extend the Tartus lease by 49 years, after which Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the facility will be expanded to accomodiate 11 warships, including nuclear vessels.
With reporting from AFP