Russia establishing permanent presence at its Syrian bases - RIA

Russia establishing permanent presence at its Syrian bases - RIA
Tue Dec 26, 2017 14:49:42

Russia has started establishing a permanent military presence at naval and air bases in Syria, the defence minister said on Tuesday as parliament ratified a deal with Damascus to cement Russian presence in the country, the RIA news agency reported.

(reuters) -- The deal, signed on Jan. 18 will expand the Tartus naval facility, Russia's only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, and grant Russian warships access to Syrian waters and ports, Viktor Bondarev, head of the upper house security and defence committee, told RIA.

RIA news agency separately quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying: "Last week the Commander-in-Chief (President Vladimir Putin) approved the structure and the bases in Tartus and in Hmeimim (air base). We have begun forming a permanent presence there."

The Tartus naval facility, in use since the says of the Soviet Union, is too small to play host to larger warships.

According to the RIA report, the agreement will allow Russia to keep 11 warships at Tartus, including nuclear vessels. The agreement will last for 49 years and could be prolonged further.

(Photo: Tartus Naval Base, Syria, Google)

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