Russia has reportedly sent a missile-armed frigate to its naval base in Syria’s Mediterranean coastal city of Tartus following a recent US missile strike against an airbase in the Arab country.
An informed military-diplomatic source in Moscow told Russia’s TASS news agency on Friday that the Admiral Grigorovich, a Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigate, was due to arrive in the Mediterranean later on the day.
“The Russian ship armed with cruise missiles Kalibr will visit the logistics base in Tartus,” the source said.
The 4,000-ton warship’s presence off Syria’s coast would depend on the situation, but “in any way it will last more than a month,” the source added.
The Russian ship was deployed to Syria after taking part in a joint exercise with Turkish ships in the Black Sea.
Early on Friday, US warships in the eastern Mediterranean launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat Airfield in Syria’s Homs Province, which Washington alleged was the origin of a suspected chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib Province earlier this month.
Washington has not provided any evidence to support the accusations, prompting criticisms from many countries and international intuitions for choosing to take unilateral military action hastily and without proof.
The strike drew the praise from anti-Damascus militant groups as well as the parties long viewed as their staunch supporters, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and their Western allies.
Syria has categorically denied carrying out the purported gas attack, with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem stressing that the Idlib airstrike had targeted a depot, where terrorists stored chemical weapons.
Damascus denounced the US assault as a “blatant aggression” that killed up to 15 people, including civilians, and caused “significant material damage.”
Russia-US ties also hit a new low following the military strike, which was condemned by Moscow as an act of “aggression against a sovereign nation” and a violation of international law.
Following US’s unprecedented offensive, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that Moscow was suspending the 2015 air safety agreement with Washington aimed at avoiding mid-air collisions during their military missions in the Syrian airspace.
Hours later, a US-led coalition spokesman confirmed that Russia had notified the alliance of its intent to halt the deal.
Russia has secured its Syrian bases in Hmeimim and Tartus with S-300 and S400 missile defense systems.
Syria’s S-200 air defense systems have been restored with Russia’s help, TASS reported, adding that those complexes are also deployed to provide protection for the Russian military in eastern Syria.