Russian naval flotilla docks in Syria: state media

DAMASCUS – Agence France-Presse

 Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is seen in this file photo. AP photo

Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is seen in this file photo. AP photo

A large Russian naval flotilla led by an aircraft carrier has docked in the Syrian port of Tartus in what Damascus state media hailed on Sunday as a show of solidarity by close ally Moscow.

The six-day port call by the carrier group in the Mediterranean port where Russia has a recently expanded naval base is intended to boost ties at a time when President Bashar al-Assad’s government is under mounting Western and Arab pressure over its bloody crackdown on dissent, the Syrian press said.

“The port call is aimed at bringing the two countries closer together and strengthening their ties of friendship,” the official SANA news agency quoted a Russian naval officer it named as Yakushin Vladimir Anatolievich as saying.

“The commanders of the Russian naval vessels docked in Tartus took turns to express their solidarity with the Syrian people,” the news agency added.

The governor of Tartus province, Atef al-Nadaf, paid tribute to the “honourable position adopted by Russia which has stood by the Syrian people.” The Al-Watan newspaper, which is privately owned but close to the government, reported last week that the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was escorted by a large flotilla including submarines.

Despite strong Western criticism, Russia has stood by its Cold War ally in the face of a mounting international outcry over the death toll from security force efforts to crush nearly 10 months of anti-government protests.

In October, Moscow joined Beijing in vetoing a Western-drafted UN Security Council resolution that would have threatened Damascus with “targeted measures” if it failed to rein in its security forces.

Source: Daily News

Iran warns US carrier off Persian Gulf

Commander of Iran's Army Major General Ataollah Salehi

Commander of Iran’s Army Major General Ataollah Salehi has warned a US aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf, adding that the warning comes “only once.”

On December 30, 2011 the Iranian Navy identified and recorded footage and images of the USS John C. Stennis in the area where Iran is currently holding naval military exercises.

General Salehi said on Tuesday that we recommend and warn the aircraft carrier not to return to its previous position in the Persian Gulf, “since we are not in the habit of repeating a warning and we warn only once.”

The USS John C. Stennis has left the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. It is one of the US navy’s biggest warships. The nuclear-powered vessel carries around 3,300 personnel most of whom are air crew. It can also carry 50 fighter jets and 6 helicopters. The carrier passed through Forouzan oil platforms and Farsi Island.

Iran’s Navy launched a massive 10-day naval exercise, codenamed “Velayat 90”, on December 24. The drill covers an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

Major General Salehi said the experiences of Iran’s Navy such as its presence in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea have enhanced the combat power of the Iranian forces.

“Our actions in sea are neither passive nor aggressive, but are rather aimed at training in free waters and safeguarding the interests of Iran and Islamic countries,” the Iranian commander added.

Over the past years, Iran has made important breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems.

The country has repeatedly clarified that its military might is merely based on the nation’s defense doctrine of deterrence and poses no threat to other countries.

Source: Press TV