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Extended Stay: US Carrier May Reportedly Remain in East Med. to 'Contain' Russia

© U.S. Navy / Go to the photo bankThe aircraft carrier group of the United States Navy led by USS Harry S. Truman, front, and a ship escort are seen leaving the port of Norfolk heading for the Middle East. File photo
The aircraft carrier group of the United States Navy led by USS Harry S. Truman, front, and a ship escort are seen leaving the port of Norfolk heading for the Middle East. File photo - Sputnik International
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Earlier this week, a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman entered the Mediterranean Sea, six days after the US, Britain and France launched a missile attack on Syria.

The US military is debating whether to keep its aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman near the Middle East instead of rotating it after a set period of time, according to the Defense News website.

It quoted US Defense Department officials as saying that the move is still under discussion and that it "would be a response to "increasingly assertive Russian activities in the region," while also being in line with Washington's new National Defense Strategy.

READ MORE: US Wanted to Show It's 'in Game' – Ex-Envoy on Missile Attack on Syria

At the same time, Defense News reported, the Harry S. Truman staying on in Europe "would be a major departure from the normal rotational presence missions the Navy has conducted since Operation Desert Storm, in which a trip through 'The Ditch' is almost a foregone conclusion."

Additionally, the aircraft carrier's deployment in the Mediterranean should "serve as an imposing reminder" of US President Donald Trump's warning against the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government forces, according to the Defense News.

READ MORE: US, UK, France Missile Attack on Syria Won't Be Left Unanswered — Lavrov

Leaving a Norfolk base on April 11, the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group entered the Mediterranean Sea on April 19, almost a week after the US, France and Britain launched missile strikes on Syria's military and civil facilities in response to the alleged April 7 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) walks with his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl during their meeting in Moscow on April 20, 2018 - Sputnik International
Lavrov on US Claims of Russia Hampering Work of OPCW in Douma: Show Us Evidence
The Russian Defense Ministry said that 71 missiles out of 103 were intercepted by Syria's air defense systems; Russian air defense units did not participate in the interception because none of the missiles had entered their areas of responsibility.

In another development last week, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a news briefing that the ministry had enough evidence to conclude that the planned provocation using chemical weapons was carried out in Douma in Eastern Ghouta on April 7.

According to him, the provocation was organized by Western-backed NGOs, including the White Helmets, in a bid to prompt the US to stage a missile strike on Syria.

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