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RUSSIA SENDS NAVAL FORCES TO SYRIA

Czar Putin is flexing his military might ahead of his upcoming visit to Israel — a worrisome development. AP reports: “Two Russian navy ships are completing preparations to sail to Syria with a unit of marines on a mission to protect Russian citizens and the nation’s base there, a news report said Monday. The deployment appears to reflect Moscow’s growing concern about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s future….Tartus is Russia’s only naval base outside the former Soviet Union, serving Russian navy ships on missions to the Mediterranean and hosting an unspecified number of military personnel….Syria is Russia’s last remaining ally in the Middle East, and has been a major customer of Soviet and Russian weapons industries for the last four decades, acquiring billions of dollars worth of combat jets, helicopters, missiles, armored vehicles and other military gear. Russia has shielded Assad’s regime from international sanctions over its violent crackdown on protests. Moscow also has continued to provide Syria with arms despite Western calls for a halt in supplies. Opposition groups say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime. But a ferocious government crackdown led many to take up arms, and the conflict is now an armed insurgency….” [To read full story, please click here]

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