Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. File photo
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DAMASCUS – Moscow started dispatching its flagship aircraft carrier to bolster its forces in the eastern Mediterranean off Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will sail to the eastern Mediterranean to join other Russian ships at the Syrian coast, according to defence minister Sergei Shoigu said.
“Currently the Russian naval deployment to the east Mediterranean consists of no less than six battleships and three or four support vessels,” Shoigu said.
“In order to bolster the military capabilities of the group we plan to add the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the group,” he added.
Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria for the past year in support of Bashar al-Assad. It has also deployed a naval contingent to back up its operation.
According to reports, this is the first time that the Soviet-era Kuznetsov –Russia’s only aircraft carrier that is part of its Northern fleet based in Murmansk– will join the Russian deployment after undergoing a refurbishment.
Russia has a base in government-controlled Syrian territory from which it has flown most of its bombing raids in the country.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi