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Terrorism & Security

Report: Russia sending naval ships to Syria in case of evacuation

Russia plans to dispatch two ships carrying marines to its naval base in Tartous, reportedly to protect Russian citizens and evacuate them if needed. 

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“Russia is obviously concerned about Islamic regimes and perhaps most important of all it is terrified of chaos,” said Mark Galeotti, who chairs the Center for Global Affairs at New York University in an article by the Independent Online. “Russia feels that the West doesn't know how to handle regime change and that the outcome is almost invariably the kind of chaos from which Islamic extremist movements arise.”

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On Friday, Russia announced plans to send an advanced missile defense system to Syria, reported the New York Times.

“I would like to say these mechanisms are really a good means of defense, a reliable defense against attacks from the air or sea,” Anatoly P. Isaykin, the general director of the company, Rosoboronexport, said in an interview. “This is not a threat, but whoever is planning an attack should think about this.”

As for the ships, it remains uncertain when or if the ship will leave port for Syria, with Russia’s RT news channel saying the ship remains docked and unloaded. The Nikolai Filchenkov is presently docked in Sevastopol, where witnesses say that it is apparent because of the ship's draft that there is no cargo on board.

“The ship is ready for deployment just as any warship of the Navy on duty. There are no marines on board and we received no orders to set sail to Syria. The crews are engaged in their normal routines,” RT quoted a Russian naval officer as saying.

Meanwhile, inside Syria, opposition activists say that the government has intensified its shelling of rebel neighborhoods in Homs. The continued bombardment of Homs, comes just one day after the UN suspended its observer patrols due to worsening security conditions.

“They are shelling us all the time. There's very little food and water, and we're running out of medication,” Syrian activist Abu Bilal told Al Jazeera on Sunday. 

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