MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will launch a major naval exercise in the Mediterranean on Saturday, announced the Ministry of Defense, a movement that, according to the Kremlin, has not had anything to do with militant opponents in the Syrian province of Idlib.
REFIL – CORRECTING BYLINE Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem will enter the hall in Moscow on 30 August 201
Idlib and its environs are the last A great enclave of rebels who have opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close Russian ally, and one source has told Reuters that he is a graduated Offensive prepared to regain them.
"This hotbed of terrorists (in Idlib) promises no good if this inaction continues," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
"The situation in Syria has considerable potential to become more complicated, and the situation around Idlib leaves much to be desired," he said after announcing the naval exercises aimed at keeping the West away from strikes on Syrian government forces.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem met on Thursday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and said: "We will go all the way" in Idlib and the Nusra Front group, formerly the local division of al-Qaeda destination.
The Russian Defense Ministry said more than 25 warships and support vessels and about 30 aircraft, including fighter planes and strategic bombers, would participate in the Mediterranean exercises that would last from September 1 through September 8.  They would include anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-mining exercises. Ships from the northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets of Russia would participate as well as ships from the Caspian Flotilla.
The missile cruiser "Marshal Ustinov" would lead the exercises.
"In the interests of maritime and air transport safety and in accordance with international law, the areas of maritime transport and flight operations are considered dangerous," said the ministry.
This followed the announcement of Russia's biggest war games next month since the fall of the Soviet Union in the central and eastern military districts of the country.
Russia has expanded its naval force in the Mediterranean this month, which has been called the biggest warship in Moscow by a newspaper since its entry into the Syrian conflict in 2015.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the United States, warned Washington on Thursday of a "groundless and illegal aggression against Syria". Antonov said he told US officials that Moscow is worried about signs that the United States is preparing to launch new attacks on Syria.
The United Nations has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to postpone a battle that could strike millions of civilians.
U.N. The Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters that there was a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 terrorists, but it would be better to set up humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians than to engage in battle "perfect storm" ,
Additional coverage by Denis Pinchuk and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by David Stamp