Russian naval drills planned near Syria

Jan. 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday it was planning naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea off Syria.

Russian navy vessels are planning to coordinate anti-submarine drills near the Syrian coast, the Defense Ministry said.

"A tactical group of Black Sea Fleet warships headed by the cruiser Moskva will undertake exercises in the eastern sector of the Mediterranean Sea," a statement published by state news agency RIA Novosti read.

The Russian military has maintained its Tartus naval base in Syria through the military conflict. Moscow is a close ally of Damascus and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

U.N.-African Union peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met Friday with U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva to discuss the Syrian civil war. He told the BBC this week that Assad has squandered any opportunity for a political solution to the crisis.

On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said "all options" remain on the table for dealing with the crisis.

The United Nations estimates that at least 60,000 people have died in the war, which began nearly two years ago.

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