A Russian guided-missile destroyer that called in the Syrian port of Tartus last week left it to carry out unspecified tasks near the country’s shores, a military-diplomatic source said on Monday.
The Smetlivy (“Sharp”) will stay in eastern Mediterranean until early May, the source said. He did not elaborate on the tasks set for the ship.
The Russian Navy has repeatedly said that it wants its ships on constant patrol in the region, which is considered an area of responsibility of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany are some of the countries that have their military ships currently patrolling waters around Syria.
The Soviet Union used to keep a fleet of up to 50 ships on patrol in the Mediterranean. Tartus still houses a supply base of the Russian Navy established in Soviet times.
A Russian naval task force led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier called in Tartus in January. The move was seen by many analysts as a show of support for the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is struggling to contain rising domestic insurgency while battling diplomatic pressure from the West and countries of the Persian Gulf.