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Russian warships to visit Syrian port

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A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet will visit on Monday the Syrian port of Tartus, where the Russian Navy keeps a maintenance and resupply site, a Navy spokesman said.
MOSCOW, January 12 (RIA Novosti) - A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet will visit on Monday the Syrian port of Tartus, where the Russian Navy keeps a maintenance and resupply site, a Navy spokesman said. (Russian Navy modernized - Image gallery)

The task force, which includes the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Admiral Levchenko destroyer and the Nikolay Chiker salvage tug, is currently on a tour of duty in the Mediterranean.

Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the carrier group had carried out joint exercises with the Turkish Navy last week and would return to its duties in the Mediterranean Sea after visiting Tartus.

The Soviet-era Navy maintenance site near Tartus is the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean.

Russian media reports have suggested the facility could be turned into a base for the country's Black Sea Fleet, which could lose its current main base in Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula in 2017.

About 50 naval personnel and three floating piers are reportedly deployed at the Tartus site, which can accommodate up to a dozen warships, and Russia is expanding the port and building a pier in nearby El-Latakia.

No official confirmation of the reports has been made.

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