Russia to hold Mediterranean drills as Syria tensions rise

August 30, 2018 - 3:40 am

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has announced major military drills in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions over a rebel-held enclave in Syria.

The Defense Ministry told Russian news agencies on Thursday that Russia will deploy 25 ships, including a missile cruiser, and 30 jets for the maneuvers in the first week of September. The military says the drills will focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defense.

It says Moscow has notified international organizations of the drills, which may make it dangerous for aircraft and ships to operate in the area.

The drills were announced after NATO reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean.

Russia has provided crucial military support for Syrian government forces, which are expected to mount an offensive in the northern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.