Russia conducts naval exercises in Mediterranean near Syria

The Russian military says the exercises are a necessary measure in warding off 'terrorist' attacks

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Russia's military says it has started exercises in the eastern Mediterranean near Syria to test the navy's ability to respond to “crisis situations of a terrorist nature.”

The Defense Ministry statement says that in the exercises that began Monday a naval strike force will fire artillery and missiles in combat-like conditions.

The ministry says among the vessels taking part are two Buyan-M corvettes equipped with long-range cruise missiles of the type used to strike ISIS in Syria last year.

Since intervening in Syria's civil war in September, Russia has kept warships off Syria's coast, reviving a Soviet-era practice when Soviet warships maintained a permanent vigil in the Mediterranean. Russia's naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus is now the only such facility outside the ex-Soviet Union.

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