Russia To Launch Major Naval Drills In Mediterranean As Syria Tensions Rise

Russia announces 25 WARSHIPS deployed to MEDITERRANEAN amid fears of US attack on Syria

Russia announces 25 WARSHIPS deployed to MEDITERRANEAN amid fears of US attack on Syria

Twenty-five Russian warships and 30 aircraft are massing in the Mediterranean Sea ahead of "large-scale" military drills, due to start on Saturday, Russia's Tass news agency has reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments to reporters on a conference call while answering a question about planned Russian naval drills in the Mediterranean, an exercise he said the hard situation in Syria justified.

De Mistura admitted that the terrorists in Idlib may use chemical weapons during the Syrian army's operation, echoing a concern earlier raised by Russian Federation, which warned the terrorists may launch the chemical attack to frame the Syrian government, giving Western powers a pretext to launch a new raid on Syria.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said the five-day drills were justified by the situation around Idlib, the northwestern province where Syrian and allied Russian forces are expected to launch an offensive.

After retaking a succession of rebel bastions around the country this year, the government has set its sights on Idlib.

Separately, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said his government planned to "liberate" Idlib, but that its priority was "to negotiate peace with those who want to surrender". United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura's comments prompted criticism from some who said evacuations were not a solution.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned Western powers 30 Aug against any military intervention in Syria.

Signs of the buildup have been on display for weeks.

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The U.S. armed force can build up a grouping capable of launching a massive missile strike against Syria within 24 hours, she said.

About 2.7 million people live in Idlib, where an offensive would pose a grave humanitarian problem as there is no safe territory left in Syria for residents to flee to.

"In the interests of ensuring the safety of shipping and air traffic and in line with worldwide law, the areas of the exercise will be declared risky for shipping and flights", the ministry said.

The drills were announced after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean.

The tensions are underscored by the Trump administration's determination to enforce a "red line" against chemical weapons in Syria.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed Tuesday to have information that it is anti-Assad jihadi groups that are preparing a chemical attack in Idlib and that it will be videotaped by first responders known as the White Helmets, a Western-back humanitarian group that Russia has accused of fabricating attacks.

Earlier, the Russian militaryreportedthat a group of militants in Syria was preparing a provocation, in which chlorine gas would be used to frame the Syrian government forces.

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