A Russian naval task force, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, has left the Syrian port of Tartus after a three-day visit, Russia’s Northern Fleet said in a statement on Tuesday.
The task force called on the Syrian port on Sunday amid ongoing bloody protests in Syria against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Some media reports said the visit of the Russian warships was a signal of Russia’s support for Assad’s regime but the Russian military denied any connections of the visit with the political situation in the country.
“The naval task force has completed its visit to the Syrian port of Tartus with the aim of replenishing [food and water] provisions. The warships left the Syrian territorial waters on Tuesday afternoon and continued on their route in accordance with their schedule,” the statement said.
Syria’s SANA news agency reported earlier that it viewed the visit of the Russian warships as a sign of solidarity with Syria saying that the country “highly respects Russia’s honorable stance in support of the Syrian people.”
The Russian Defense Ministry repeatedly stated that the purpose of the visit at the Syrian port was to replenish water and food supplies during the naval task force’s long-term training mission in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
Russia maintains a Soviet-era naval maintenance site near Tartus and it is the country’s only military foothold in the Mediterranean. Moscow is planning to modernize the facility to accommodate large warships, including missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers after 2012.