MOSCOW- A Russian official source in the Russian Black Sea Fleet told RIA Novosti on Sunday that media reports, which reported a large Russian amphibious ship carrying weapons and troops was en route to Syria, are false.
“The ship is in the state of instant readiness for departure like all of the fleet’s warships. There are no marines aboard the ship and there were no commands for a voyage towards Syria. The crews are engaged in day-to-day activities,” the Russian source said.
Some Ukrainian media sources reported also on Sunday, referring to CNN and other western media that the Nikolai Filchenkov large amphibious ship from the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in the Crimea in Ukraine was heading for the Syrian port of Tartous carrying weapons and marines to defend Russia’s naval facility.
On Saturday, press reports indicated that Russia may send warships and troops to Syria to protect its logistics base in Tartous, according to a Russian military source.
“It is quite possible that warships of the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet may go to the Mediterranean Sea in case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartous, Syria, since is a zone of the Fleet’s responsibility,” a source in the Russian General Staff told the Itar-Tass government news agency.
“Several warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including large landing ships with marines aboard, are fully prepared to take to the sea,” the source added.
According to UN estimates, about 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assads regime in March 2011, which started with peaceful protests but has since grown increasingly militarized.