Navy Tanker, Not Warship, near Syria Says Moscow

Rianovosti
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Russia denies media reports of warship off Syria Coast

As tensions around Syria escalate, media reports said a Russian warship with marines onboard had arrived off the Syrian coast, although Russia, an ally of President Bashar al-Assad, denied the reports, but a senior member of the European parliament demanded an inquiry into the allegations.

The Russian Defense Ministry said one of its tankers, Iman, had arrived off the Syrian coast for technical reasons and its civilian crew was accompanied by security guards. The ministry said the tanker was carrying fuel and food supplies for the Russian Black Sea and Northern fleets, which are engaged in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

Russia’s chief of the general staff, Nikolai Makarov, said on Tuesday the country had no plans to send warships to troubled Syria while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the reports were untrue. "Reports that Russian warships are in Tartus are complete fairy tales," he said.

A senior member of the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, has called for an immediate UN inquiry into allegations by the Syrian opposition that a Russian warship was delivering weapons to Syria.

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