Task & Purpose:
Unless the Russian navy is hunting for the Red October in the eastern Mediterranean, it is likely that so many Russian ships have remained there since the end of Moscow’s latest naval exercise there primarily to support Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Pentagon officials said.
More than a dozen Russian ships have massed close to Syria, and many of those vessels are equipped with KALIBR cruise missiles, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.
“The question remains, then, why is Russia’s naval presence still elevated in the region?” Pahon told Task & Purpose. “Is there another reason?”
The Assad regime is currently poised to launch a massive assault against rebel-held Idlib province and Russian ships have previously launched cruise missiles in support of the Syrian regime.
“The United States and its allies are greatly concerned about the terrible humanitarian crisis that would result if the Syrian regime, with Russian backing, launches an attack on the densely populated Idlib province,” Pahon told Task & Purpose. “The Assad regime and its operational backer, Russia, bear full responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of an offensive in Idlib.”