Just one day after the G8 Summit ended in the failure of Western leaders to overcome Russian resistance to a resolution mandating President Bashar Assad’s ouster, Moscow announced Wednesday June 19, the dispatch to Syria of two warships carrying 600 Russian marines.
Military sources report that the pretext offered by Moscow for sending the force thinly disguised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent to flex Russian military muscle in response to the delivery of Western heavy arms to Syrian rebels.
Some 20,000 Russians live in Syria. In former stages of the conflict, they were given the locations of assembly points should Moscow decide to lift them out of the war-torn country.
The Russian Interfax news agency identified the warships heading for Syrian shores as the Nikolai Filchenkov Large Landing Ship and the Vice Admiral Kulakov, a Udaloy 1 class destroyer, each carrying 300 marines.
Aboard the former are also 20 tanks and 15 armored troop carriers or military trucks, while the Kulakov is designed mainly for anti-submarine warfare.
They have been cruising in the Mediterranean since mid-May.
Upon receiving their orders, they could reach Syria in just a few hours.
Maj.-Gen. Gradusov was quoted as saying: “We won’t abandon the Russians and will evacuate them from the conflict zone, if necessary.”
Pentagon Spurned Kerry Efforts to Attack Syria
Kerry’s ‘Plan’ Would’ve Required Over 700 Bombing Runs
Secretary of State John Kerry started pushing a plan for “immediate” US air strikes against government targets.
Kerry’s scheme was shot down loudly by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who pointed out that Syria has air defense systems and Kerry’s list of targets would require more than 700 separate bombing sorties to accomplish.
A rebel group that operates on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights stated Thursday that it would not fight Israel if Israel sends forces into Syria. A spokesman for the rebel group, which is based in Quneitra, made the comments to Al-Jazeera.
“We’ll leave the fighting to Hezbollah and to [Syrian President] Bashar Assad’s men,” said Abu Jafar. “We won’t fight Israel.”
Cameron’s coup against Assad
British PM offers immunity to regime forces if they help oust their leader; ‘Friends of Syria’ prepare to discuss military action in Doha