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Russian ship steams toward Syrian port of Tartus

A Russian official said the call is "purely technical," despite reports of of a Russian arms shipment last January.

russia navy tartus syria portEnlarge
Russian Navy sailors stand on the deck of their ship during a Navy Day parade rehearsal on Neva River in St. Petersburg on July 29, 2011. A Russian destroyer is reportedly steaming toward the Syrian port city of Tartus, which hosts a Russian navy base. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

A Russian destroyer is heading to the Syrian port city of Tartus from its Black Sea home port in Sevastopol, Agence France Presse reported.

The news wire wrote that the "smetlivy guided-missile destroyer" will arrive "shortly" at the Russian base in Tartus, where it will restock onboard supplies before "conducting planned exercises near Syria's coast."

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The report quoted a Russian military official who called the docking "a purely technical port call," though two previous calls since the beginning of the year were more provactive. A March docking brought a squad of anti-terror marines, and AFP wrote that in January a Russian vessel reportedly delivered an arms shipment.

In March, as Syrian cities were being shelled by the military, Russia dispatched a ship to Tartus with an "anti-terror squad from the Russian marines," ABC News wrote. Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor and Russia analyst, told ABC at the time, "No one thinks of the Russians as anything but Assad's last friends."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120402/russian-ship-steams-toward-syria