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Sources: Russian warships in Syrian port

  |   Sept. 19, 2008 at 12:33 PM
TARTUS, Syria, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Ten Russian warships are docked in the Syrian port city of Tartus to the apparent surprise of the Israeli military, military sources say.

The unidentified sources said Israeli military leaders were unaware that Russian had already moved so many vessels into Syrian territory following a Sept. 12 agreement between the two countries, DEBKAfile, a Israeli news Web site, reported Friday.

The military intelligence Web site said the agreement reached between Russian navy commander Adm. Vladimir Wysotsky and Syrian naval commander Gen. Taleb al-Barri allows Russia to use Syrian ports as long-term naval bases.

Rear Adm. Baranov said that the Russian vessels are in Tartus to help widen the harbor to accommodate additional vessels in the future.

Such a potential increased military presence by Russian in Syria has Israeli officials concerned that their nearby country could be forced into a potential international conflict. DEBKAfile said some Israeli officials fear Russia is preparing for a showdown with the United States and NATO regarding the situation in Georgia and the rest of the Caucasus region.

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