MOSCOW, March 21 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Defense Ministry denied on Thursday media reports speculating that Russia will relocate its resupply base in the Syrian port of Tartus to Beirut due to the escalation of the Syrian conflict.
“The reports that Russian warships … will use Beirut rather than the Syrian port of Tartus as a resupply point are nothing but pure speculation,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry confirmed that a Baltic Fleet unit, consisting of the Yaroslav Mudry frigate and the large amphibious assault ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin, made a port call in the Lebanese capital of Beirut recently.
“But to link this event with a plan to abandon the Tartus base is incorrect, to say the least,” the statement said.
The Russian Navy maintains a small Soviet-era resupply base in Tartus on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.
The Russian Navy
Syria has been locked in an increasingly bloody civil war since demonstrations broke out against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. According to UN estimates, at least 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.