Russian warships will evacuate Russian civilians, say Russian officials

Russian warships heading to Syria have a peaceful intent, Russian officials claim: extracting Russian citizens from Syria and transporting them safely back to the motherland.

A Russian military intelligence ship, leading an unseen group of Russian warships, sails through the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday, Sept. 5. The Russians warships are en route to the East Mediterranean. The Kremlin's chief of staff says their purpose is to evacuate Russian citizens.

The Kremlin's chief of staff says Russia has been sending warships to the Mediterranean Sea for possible evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria.

Russian news agencies on Thursday quoted Sergei Ivanov as saying that Russia has been boosting its naval presence in the Mediterranean "primarily" in order to organize a possible evacuation of Russians from Syria.

Russia has been one of Syrian leader Bashar Assad's staunchest allies in the civil war that has been raging for more than two years.

Reports of increased Russian naval presence in the area have stoked fears about a larger international conflict if the United States orders airstrikes over a chemical weapons attack last month.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters at the G-20 summit that the U.S. should wait for the report of U.N. inspectors who investigated a chemical attack in Syria.

Putin has said Washington's evidence of the Syrian regime's involvement was not persuasive.

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