Russia has no plans to abandon its naval base in Tartus, Syria, Navy chief Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said on Monday.
“We need that base,” he said. “It will continue to operate as it has until now.”
The Russian Navy needs the base to provide maintenance and technical support to Russian warships in the Mediterranean, as well as those on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, he said.
Chirkov’s statement comes days after Russia repeatedly denied media reports that it was sending warships to Syria and delivering weapons to the Middle Eastern country.
According to UN estimates, about 12,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Assad in March 2011, which started with peaceful protests but has since grown into a low-level civil war.