TARTUS, Syria, July 28 (UPI) -- Russian servicemen stationed at a naval base in Syria may be evacuated if it comes under attack, Russia's navy chief Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said Saturday.
"I am not the one to issue orders: We have the defense minister" for that, Chirkov told Ekho Moskvy Radio. "If we have to evacuate the personnel that is currently deployed there, we certainly will."
Chirkov said Monday Russia has no plans to abandon the base in Tartus, Syria, because it is needed to provide support to Russian warships in the Mediterranean. The base also provides support to anti-piracy ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, RIA Novosti reported.
Russian officials have denied reports the ships are there to provide weapons to Syria.
The warships are preparing for naval drills scheduled in September, Black Sea Fleet commander Rear Adm. Alexander Redosenkov said Thursday.