Russia denies war games report

June 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM
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TEHRAN, June 19 (UPI) -- The Russian Defense Ministry Tuesday denied Iranian reports of planned war games with Iran, China and Syria off the Syrian coast.

The semi-official Iranian Fars news agency, citing what it called "informed sources," said some 90,000 troops from the four countries were expected to participate in land, air and sea maneuvers off the Syrian coast, including air defense and missile units.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman call the report a "further attempt to excalate the situation in Syria," RIA Novosti reported. Syria also denied any upcoming military exercises were planned.

"This information is out of sync with reality," said Buseina Shaaban, political adviser to the Syrian president. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

The Fars report said some 400 warplanes and 1,000 tanks will take part in the exercise and Egypt had granted authorization for 12 Chinese warships to sail through the Suez Canal.

A senior Russian naval commander Monday told the Russian Interfax news agency two Russian amphibious landing vessels would head to the Russian base at the Syrian port of Tartus.

The commander said marines would be charged with protecting the security of Russian citizens and evacuating part of the base. The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said this marks the first time Moscow has sent troops to Syria since the violent uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011.

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